Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Tatiana Sanchez DPM Newsletter Spring 2017

Q: Describe your academic background?
A: I completed my Bachelor’s in Biology at the Military University in Colombia. After graduation, I worked for about a year as a research assistant and then as a science teacher until I decided to apply to grad school. I completed my Doctorate in Plant Medicine and my Postdoc in Plant Pathology, both at UF.
Q: What is your current occupation and how has your DPM degree aided you in the tasks and responsibilities associated with your position?
A: I currently work with UF/IFAS Extension as the Commercial Horticulture Extension Agent for Alachua County. I help small and large growers identifying and resolving a number of issues that affect crop production in vegetables, ornamentals, fruits, nuts, and sod farms. The DPM degree helps me on a daily basis as I use all the disciplines we learned during the doctorate to help growers troubleshoot nutritional prob-lems, pest and disease management among others. The pesticide research conducted during my degree provided me with an understanding of the application, the handling, and the risks of pesticides. This knowledge allowed me to quickly assume the responsibility for the pesticide and licensing training for the public, commercial, and limited pesticide licenses in the county.
Q: What prompted you to pursue your present career and where are you located?
A: I have been very lucky in terms of the professional opportunities that have been available for me from my bachelor’s to my current job. I very much enjoy communicating research to farmers and helping to resolve any type of plant health issue they may encounter. While I was doing my postdoc in Plant Pathology, I had the opportunity to work closely with commercial farmers in Alachua County and it lead into a job with the extension office. I had the opportunity to experience what a job in industry or academia would be like and learning about extension clarified what the best fit for me would be.
Q: Why did you choose to enroll in the DPM program?
A: A multi-disciplinary degree like the DPM program opens up the spectrum of job possibilities which increases your chances of working in a field you really like. Work shouldn’t be work, it should be passion.

Dr. George Fox

Dr. George Fox DPM Newsletter Fall 2015

Dr. Fox is now working with the USDA, specifically with APHIS International Services. He will be serving as a Foreign Service Officer, stationed internationally to represent US agricultural interests. Upon completion of an intensive training program, Dr. Fox expects to be headquartered at a U.S. Embassy in 2016. Expertise and practical knowledge of plant pests and diseases, earned by becoming a Doctor of Plant Medicine at UF, helped Dr. Fox secure high-level employment with APHIS.

Tomás ChiconelaAn interview with Tomás Chiconela, by Nicole Casuso DPM Newsletter Fall 2015

Q. Please describe your academic background.
A. I received my B.Sc. degree in Agronomy at the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of Eduardo Mondlane University, in Maputo, Mozambique. Then, I moved to South Africa, where I obtained my M.Sc. degree in Agriculture (Weed Science) at the University of Orange Free State. Afterwards, I was awarded a Ford Foundation scholarship to pursue DPM program at UF. Immediately after my DPM graduation in 2006, I enrolled in the Agronomy (Weed Science) PhD Program at the same University and completed that degree in 2008.

Q. What is your current occupation and how has your DPM degree aided you in the duties and obligations associated with your position?
A. Currently, I am Dean of the Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of Eduardo Mondlane University. I was appointed to this position after heading the Department of Plant Production and Protection (twice), and the Department of Plant Protection, after the first department got split in two (Department of Plant Production, and Department of Plant Protection). Despite my administrative responsibility, my DPM degree has allowed me to teach several courses both at graduate and postgraduate levels. Similarly, it also allows me to supervise students working in different thematic areas.

Q. What prompted you to pursue your current career?
A. Immediately after completion of my B.Sc., I was hired as an assistant lecturer in Weed Science, and later appointed to be in charge of the Plant Protection Section. Thereafter, I was appointed as head of department of Plant Production and Protection. While acting in both position I had to deal with all kind of pests without that expertise that was required from me. One day a colleague of mine got a newsletter from Cornell University. In it, a new course in plant health, at the University of Florida, was being depicted. By then, I was in a process of applying for a scholarship from Ford Foundation to pursue my PhD degree in Agronomy, at the UF, under Dr. Bill Haller. I didn´t think twice. I decided to put my PhD in hold and go for DPM first. While in the program, I asked my Committee´s Chair (Dr. Bill Haller) to let me help in his laboratory to keep me busy. After a while, I realized that it was possible to combine both degrees, and I decided to do it.

Q. Why did you choose the DPM program?
A. I wanted to get that myriad of knowledge in plant health that the program provides that any other course in plant protection was able to offer.

Q. On a personal and professional level, how has your DPM degree influenced you?
A. DPM opened up many doors for me. I have been able to interact with colleagues working in several subjects without any problem. I also have been able to teach several courses and supervise students conducting their research in several plant healthy problems.

Q. Are there any challenges that your DPM degree has helped you overcome?
A. The DPM program helped me a lot in sense that I can confidently interact with farmers, researchers, policy makers, industry and students about plant health problems.

Sam GluckmanAn interview with Sam Glucksman, by Nicole Casuso DPM Newsletter Summer 2015
Q. Please describe your academic background.
A. I received my B.S. in Botany at the University of Florida in 2007. I then enrolled in the DPM Program and completed my degree in August 2011.

Q. What is your current occupation and how has your DPM degree aided you in the tasks and
responsibilities associated with your position?
A. Crop Management Specialist-Account Manager with Glades Crop Care, Inc. My DPM degree has aided me in my current occupation by giving me the knowledge and skill set for identifying and controlling pests, diseases, and other issues that affect plant health. My internships with the Doctor of Plant Medicine Clinical Trials and the UF Plant Disease Clinic have contributed greatly to my success as a principle investigator for large scale grower demonstrations, and field diagnosis of pests and diseases.

Q. What prompted you to pursue your current career?
A. I wanted a position that would allow me to utilize all the skills and knowledge gained from the program including trial work and contract research.

Q. Why did you choose the DPM program?
A. I love working with plants in the field, greenhouse, and laboratory, but wanted more than a research experience. A practicing degree allowed me to utilize the information gained in research, and apply it to real world scenarios.

Q. On a personal level, how has your DPM degree influenced you?
A. Besides all the science, my degree has influenced my personal life in many ways. It has taught me the importance of discipline and hard work, networking and social development (maintaining good relationships). Most of all, admiration and respect for the agricultural industry and community.

Dr. Leroy Whilby
An interview with Dr. Leroy Whilby, by Nicole Casuso DPM Newsletter Spring 2015

Q. Please describe your academic background.
A. My general agricultural studies began at the College of Agriculture in Portland, Jamaica where I received my A.Sc. I then worked for a few years as an inspector before pursuing a B.S. in Plant Science at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. My graduate studies began in 2001 at Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, FL where I conducted research studies in agroforestry. At the conclusion of my M.S. in Plant Science at FAMU, I received the FAMU Graduate Feeder Program Fellowship, which assisted me in acquiring the DPM degree from the University of Florida.

Q. What is your current occupation and how has your DPM degree aided you in the tasks and responsibilities associated with your position?
A. I currently serve as the State Survey Coordinator for the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program under FDACSDPI. My DPM degree gave me a broad spectrum of knowledge on pathogens, nematodes, entomology, and agronomy. The DPM program enhanced my ability to apply a diverse knowledge base within CAPS while also enabling me to make rapid and holistic assessments.

Dr. Tim Durham
An interview with Dr. Tim Durham, by Nicole Casuso DPM Newsletter Fall 2014

Q. Please describe your academic background.
A. I received an AAS in Horticulture and Greenhouse Management from Suffolk County Community College. Thanks to an articulation agreement, I transferred to Cornell University, where I received a BS in Plant Science. Later, I was awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship for postgraduate study at Lincoln University, New Zealand, where I received a Postgraduate Diploma (P.G. Dip.) in Applied Science. Immediately upon my return to the US, I enrolled in the DPM program at UF.

Q. What is your current occupation and how has your DPM degree aided you in the occupational tasks and responsibilities?
A. I’m currently an Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Agriculture Program Coordinator at Ferrum College, a small liberal arts institution in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The DPM degree has been an invaluable asset. In essence, it allows me to act as a disciplinary linguist – switching dialects on the fly. For example, over the course of a day I can: 1) discuss the use of braconids as biocontrols with colleagues, 2) interpret a soil test report in class, and 3) work with students on a calibration lab at the campus farm.

Dr. Mike Merida
An interview with Dr. Mike Merida, by Nicole Casuso, 1st Year DPM Student DPM Newsletter Summer 2014

Q. Can you share with us your academic background?
A. I earned my bachelors of science degree through the Horticulture Department at the University of Florida in 2001. In 2002, I enrolled in the DPM program and graduated in May 2006.

Q. Please describe your current occupation.
A. I currently work as the Foliage Production Manager for Costa Farms where I manage over 800 acres of production. Primary responsibilities include managing growing practices, pest & disease management, field scouts, the potting department, live goods receiving, standards and process improvements, budgets and perpetual inventory.

Q. What prompted you to pursue a career in industry?
A. During my last internship prior to completion of my DPM degree, I worked for a large field nursery that produced different species of palms for landscape installations. This is when I felt that private industry would be the appropriate sector to apply the strong curriculum the DPM program provided.

Q. Why did you choose the DPM program?
A. I chose to pursue a degree in the Doctor of Plant Medicine program because of the strong base it would provide me upon graduation. It allowed me to grow within the company at a faster rate, applying all aspects from disease and insect diagnosis to crop nutrition and every other discipline in between.

Q. On a personal and professional level, how has your DPM degree influenced you?
A. The DPM degree has not only opened many opportunities within the company but has also allowed me to grow within the industry. As a result of the extensive knowledge gain I received, I have been able to build strong relationships with companies dealing in various fertilizers, pesticides, soil products, herbicides, and biological agents. Earning a DPM degree is one of my proudest moments and continues to benefit me as a professional in plant world. Dr. Agrios had a great vision, and we as alumni, current students, and faculty are pioneers of his vision. I certainly have not looked back nor do I regret the decision I made years ago to pursue a DPM degree.

Dr. Raj Singh
An interview with Dr. Raj Singh, by Nicole Casuso, 1st Year DPM Student DPM Newsletter Spring 2014

Q. Can you give us insight on your academic background?
A. I received a Bachelor’s in Agricultural (Honors in Plant Protection) from Punjab Agricultural University, Punjab, India. The Punjab Agricultural University is Asia’s leading Agricultural University and is responsible for bringing the ‘Green Revolution’ in India. I then moved to United Kingdom and obtained a Master’s Degree in Crop Protection from University of Reading.

Q. What is your current profession?
A. I currently direct the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center’s Plant Diagnostic Center. Everybody here calls me ‘Plant Doctor’. I am an Assistant Professor of Plant Diagnostics and a State Plant Diagnostics Specialist. After being promoted to an Assistant Professor last year, I have become the first Tenure Track Assistant Professor in the United States with a Doctor of Plant Medicine degree.

Q. What previous involvement led to your present position? A. I held an instructor position (2008-2013) and an extension associate position (2007-2008) with the LSU AgCenter. Prior to joining the LSU AgCenter, I held a Post-Doctoral Associate position (2005 -2007) in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. I became a Plant Doctor in 2004. Q. So what made you choose DPM?
A. I never wanted to focus on just one area related to plant health such as Plant Pathology or Entomology. I always wanted to do something different, but was never sure. Then I came to know about the DPM program and without any hesitation I called Dr. Agrios and the next thing I know, I was accepted to the program. Truly the intensity and the inter-disciplinary nature of the program attracted me to become a Plant Doctor.

Q. How do you feel your DPM degree has influenced you?
A. I love my career and it is because of the DPM program that I have been able to achieve so much in such a short time. The newly advanced Plant Diagnostic Center was known as Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. It is because of the DPM training and experience that I was able to convert the Clinic to the Plant Diagnostic Center and provide our clients a one-stop shopping for all their plant health problems. Every day, I work with something new and different. You never know what kind of plant sample will walk into the Center. I believe that DPM has provided me with the training and confidence to fulfill the mission of my program. Go DPM!

Adam J. Silagyi
Interview with Adam J. Silagyi, by Lacey Mount, DPM Alumna, Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc., Fresno, CA DPM Newsletter Fall 2013

Adam J. Silagyi became the world’s first Doctor of Plant Medicine in 2003. He also holds a Master of Science in Entomology from Purdue University, but he elected to make D.P.M. the end of his academic training. Currently, as an Agricultural Development Officer for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Silagyi helps with the implementation of the U.S. Presidential Initiative Feed the Future in Guatemala. Prior to USAID, Dr. Silagyi also worked for such agencies as the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Plant Industry (DPI), and the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Plant Protection & Quarantine (PPQ) Department. Delving further into his past, we find Dr. Silagyi conducting research as an intern at the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, CATIE) in Costa Rica CocaCola World Citizenship Program in Bolivia. Dr. Silagyi also spent time in the Peace Corps in Paraguay. So, what made him choose the D.P.M. over a traditional Ph.D.? “Personally, I learned a lot during my master’s degree; conducted agricultural research in the field, understand its importance. But I did not want to continue with a Ph.D., which is purely research. When I was walking down the hall at Purdue I saw a poster advertising and describing the newly formed D.P.M. program at my alma matter. I hold a B.Sc. in Agronomy from the University of Florida. I immediately spoke to my wife about this great opportunity to continue my education that was holistic and practical, and would take us back to Florida and family.”