Dr. Nicholas Dufault

Dr. Nicholas Dufault
Featured in: DPM Newsletter Summer 2014

Since the start of his employment with the University of Florida in November 2010, Dr. Nicholas Dufault has been involved with several academic activities that complement his role as a university faculty member. Dr. Dufault is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology, responsible for Vegetables and Agronomic Crops. Additionally, Dr. Dufault is involved in the Plant Science Research and Education Units Faculty Advisory Committee serving as the immediate past chair. In relation to the DPM program, Dr. Dufault serves as the Plant Pathology Department Liaison. The liaison sits on the DPM faculty advisory council and acts as a resource which students can use to ask questions or address concerns about plant pathology related topics. The liaison also coordinates the plant pathology faculty in preparation of the plant pathology DPM comprehensive written exam which is offered every semester.

Furthermore, Dr. Dufault aims to help reduce losses attributed to fungal diseases of agronomic and vegetable crops through monitoring, research, and education. His extension work more specifically targets peanut, cotton, potato, and watermelon producers throughout the state of Florida.

“My program uses fungicide trials to assist with product selection and to explore new or novel management strategies and products. Our research focuses on increasing our knowledge about environmental factors that affect disease, and assessing pathogen population diversity through molecular techniques and fungicide resistance. Ultimately, my goal is to help producers make educated and sound disease management decisions that will save them time and hopefully money.”

A side from his extension appointment and traditional duties as a faculty member, Dr. Dufault has elected to serve as a committee member for several DPM students. Alumni that he mentored include Ken Johnson and Todd Leeson, while current committee involvements include serving as the chair for Christopher Ferguson, and as committee member for Wael Elwakil and Rebecca Barroco. His dedication to the DPM program and its students is reflected in his view of the program’s overall effectiveness at training students for careers in academia and extension. When asked to qualitatively rate the program, Dr. Dufault responded with the following:

“I would rate the effectiveness of the training from the DPM program very high. Students have multiple opportunities to not only learn about integrated pest management strategies and other systems approaches to plant health, but also get hands-on experience. This experience can be through internships at the University and/or with external employment opportunities. The knowledge gained from these hands-on experiences provides DPM students with a unique training and educational experience that can build effective leaders. I think there are many career paths in both industry and academia that require this unique education and skill set.”