2021 Mentor Travel Awards

2021 Mentor Travel Awards

Emerson-Fuller-Whisler Travel Award

Annakay Abrahams is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia under the supervision of Dr. Marin Brewer. Her research focuses on understanding the biology and genetic architecture of the pathogen that causes Exobasidium Leaf and Fruit Spot disease of blueberry, Exobasidium maculosum. The project aims to understand why the pathogen has such a high level of genetic diversity, why it emerged and whether there is a vector involved in disease transmission. She is particularly interested in host-pathogen interactions and how the genetic structure of plant pathogens drives emergence, pathogenicity, evolution, and adaptation. She enjoys travelling and music and gardening.

Margret Barr Bigelow Travel Award

Caroline Burks is a master’s student in Dr. Marin Brewer’s lab in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia. She received her Bachelor of Science in Bioenvironmental Sciences in May of 2019 from Texas A&M University. Her undergraduate research focused on discovering the mechanisms behind endocytic growth of filamentous fungi. Her first research experiences inspired her interest in her current work; investigating the population genetics of azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus on commercial plant products. After her expected graduation in December 2021, she expects to continue her work in antifungal resistance in Austin, Texas.

Orson and Hope Miller Travel Award

Lisa Markovchick is a PhD candidate in Dr. Catherine Gehring’s lab at Northern Arizona University, where she studies the roles mycorrhizae in boosting reforestation, habitat quality, and water access and retention in ecosystems. Prior to this, Lisa served as a Department of Defense civilian biologist for a decade, managing fire risk, and endemic plants and birds for the Navy. She earned her MS in plant and fire ecology from San Diego State University, and a BA in education and psychology from Victoria University in New Zealand. Lisa has created, developed and led large natural resources surveys, restoration, management, and citizen science projects for over 20 years.

William C. Denison Travel Award

Eduardo Pérez-Pazos was born and raised in Mexico City, where he lived his entire life before moving into the Twin Cities for studying his Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program at the University of Minnesota (Peter Kennedy´s Lab). He did his Undergraduate and Master’s studies at UNAM, where he also worked as a teacher of several Fungal Biology and Ecology courses. Now, Eduardo is studying the ectomycorrhizal fungal genus Rhizopogon and its degree of host specificity. He aims to discover if host specificity can be broken apart when the right ecological context is present. This means, when does this genus is able to associate with non-Pinoid host trees and how strong are these interactions. One of the most interesting aspects of his research is that these Anomalous Symbioses (ASym) are rare in nature, so he is developing seminatural bioassays to test the endurance of these associations when they are exposed to the fungal community that inhabits forest soils. Besides doing experiments, Eduardo enjoys cooking, dancing (salsa), drawing, mushroom hunting, and growing cacti back at home in Mexico City.