REU-EXCITE Team Receives Vice Chancellor Award in Excellence, IPM Members Receive Superior Service Award
Members of the Cotton Root Rot Team received the Superior Service Award from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service during the 2013 AgriLife Conference on January 8. From left to right are: Warren Multer, Doug Steele (back row), Rick Minzenmayer, Marty Jungman, Jefff Stapper, Rebell Royal, Jaime Iglesias, Norman Fryar, Ryan Collett, David Drake, Tom Isakeit, and Salvador Vitanza. Photo by Janet Hurley.
Dr. Kevin Heinz.
The agency gave the awards out during its AgriLife Conference, which was held during the week of January 8-10 to the teams, at Rudder Theatre.
Dr. Kevin Heinz and Rebecca Hapes received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the Diversity category for their work in in actively seeking to recruit a diverse range of students into the field of entomology with the Department’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates - Expanding Scientific Investigation Through Entomology (REU-EXCITE) program.
The award for diversity honors an individual or team for their extraordinary efforts, achievements and innovations in recruiting, retaining or developing courses, programs and activities which enhance faculty, student and staff diversity or respond to the special needs of underrepresented populations.
Hapes and Heinz both led the program since 2008, which allows undergraduates from across the United States to gain experience in research in various projects with faculty in the Department. Every summer, students spend 10 weeks working closely with a faculty mentor conducting various research projects in various areas ranging from DNA sequencing and extraction to electron microscopy.
“Dr. Heinz’s and Ms. Hapes insight, ingenuity, dedication, and service to students in creating and delivering an innovative and high impact student experience has significantly benefited a wide array of students, mentors and the discipline,” Department Head Dr. David Ragsdale said. “Our intent is to expand upon the success of the REU-EXCITE team approach and to incorporate elements to into the existing Departmental requirement of all undergraduate majors for their research or internship experience.”
Several members of the Cotton Root Rot Team, which included four current members and two retired members of the Extension’s Integrated Pest Management program, received the Superior Service Award.
Current members include Rick Minzenmayer (Extension Agent – IPM – Ballinger), Warren Multer (Extension Agent – IPM –Garden City), Marty Jungman (Extension Agent – IPM-Hillsboro), and Salvador Vitanza (Extension Agent – IPM – El Paso). Former members Glen Moore and Chris Sansone also received recognition for their work on the team. Both Sansone and Moore are currently retired.
Cotton root rot is the most destructive root disease is the most destructive disease of cotton in Texas. According to recent research, the estimated loss per year is approximately $29.4 million per year. The disease is caused by the persistent soilborne fungus, Phymatotrichopsis omnivora.
In 1998, the team began evaluating fungicides for root rot control in the Coastal Bend. In 2008, a field research program conducted by Dr. Tom Isakeit, Extension Plant Pathologist and Rick Minzenmayer found that TopGuard fungicide was effective against the fungus. This discovery, which occurred on the Wilde farm in Tom Green County, led to numerous trials that were conducted in the Trans Pecos/St. Lawrence area, the Concho Valley, the Blacklands and the Coastal Bend to test fungicide rates and application methods.
Armed with this data, the team made a request for an Emergency Exemption label in 2011, which was granted in 2012 allowing the product to be used on Texas cotton.
“The team worked hard to educate producers about the product and how it should be used,” wrote Texas Cotton Producers Inc. president Doyle Schniers. “The fungicide was applied to about 175,000 acres in 2012, and growers realized a net benefit conservatively estimated at $5 million.”
Schniers wrote that the team took a “no stone left unturned” approach that worked.
“Farmers who have been affected for many years by this disease can now plant cotton without risking losing the crop to root rot,” he wrote. “And the economies of rural communities, which have for years been damaged by the disease, can anticipate better days.”
John Wilde, a cotton farmer in the San Angelo area, proclaimed that the project had been a “dream come true” and Dr. Webb Wallace, Executive Director of Cotton and Grain Producers of the Lower Rio Grande Valley said, “We consider Dr. Isakeit and the team’s work to be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of Texas agriculture.”
Other members of the cotton root rot team which received the Superior Service Award included:
Archie Abrameit, Stiles Farm manager at Thrall; Dr. David Drake, agronomist at San Angelo; Dr. Gaylon Morgan, agronomist, College Station; Dale Mott, cotton program specialist, College Station; Norman Fryar, agent in Pecos County; Chance Crossland, agent in Castro County; Jeffrey Stapper, agent in Nueces County; Steve Sturtz, agent in Tom Green County; Dr. Dan Fromme, agronomist at Corpus Christi; Dr. Jaime Iglesias, agent in El Paso County; Ryan Collett, agent in Hill County; Rebel Royall, agent in Glasscock County; and Tyler Frey, agent in Reagan County.