Project Teams

A team of ornamental plant pathologists, horticulturists, agricultural engineers, economists and information technologists are working collectively on this project. This wide range of expertise makes it possible to address the diverse critical needs of the green industry in a systems-based, integrated approach. The team approach ensures that the BMPs developed are technically effective, economically viable and environmentally sustainable. Team members have substantial teaching or extension experience and understand the need for the timely delivery of research results to the industry and the next generation of researchers and educators. Following are the expertise and project roles of key personnel.

Virginia Tech - Biology | Virginia Tech - Economics | Virginia Tech - IT | Penn State | Maryland | USDA/ARS | California-Riverside | Rutgers | Christopher Newport

Virginia Tech - Biology Team Members

Chuan Hong is a professor of plant pathology at Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HRAREC) in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His major areas of expertise include biology, detection and management of plant pathogens in irrigation water. His program has added several pathogen detection technologies and water treatment methods to the integrated pest management (IPM) toolbox of growers. This program has evolved to a multi-state, -institution, and -disciplinary research consortium. Hong coordinates the entire project from research planning to execution, outreach, impact documentation, and reporting. He also directs the research housed in his Lab.

Boris Vinatzer is an associate professor of bacteriology in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science in Blacksburg, Virginia. He has a progressive program on evolutionary bacteriology. Vinatzer co-advised a research associate in a preliminary study developing strategies and methodology to characterize bacterial diversity in irrigation reservoirs. He co-advises postdoctoral associates and graduate students working to identify and enhance naturally-occurring beneficial bacteria in irrigation water.

Ping Kong is a research scientist at the HRAREC. She has a wealth of expertise in virology, molecular biology and biotechnology. She also is a leading researcher in chemical communication in oomycetes and aquatic biology of plant pathogens. Kong takes leadership in the research on aquatic biology of Phytophthora and Pythium species including several important quarantine pathogens and co-advises students, summer interns and technical staff working on this project.

Patricia Richardson is a research specialist at the HRAREC. She takes the lead in setup and maintenance of water quality monitoring stations in Virginia and Maryland, download and summarize water quality data, and prepare data for analyses by Dr. Hong. She trains new hires in water sampling, field and greenhouse experimental methods, and lab assays and ensure all research practices of this project comply with the university safety/USDA-APHIS guidelines.

Marcia Stefani is a research specialist at the HRAREC. She assists Dr. Hong in editing and proofreading book chapters from domestic and international colleagues for publication, and extension materials including learning module contents for the knowledge center; and in coordination of extension activities and project meetings. She also assists the project team members in preparation of manuscripts for publication as well as slides and posters for presentation.

Xiao Yang is a doctoral student in the Hong lab. He examines and describes the new species of Phytophthora found in irrigation system then assesses the health risk they pose to ornamental crops.

Virginia Tech - Economics Team Members

Kevin Boyle is a professor and Head of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AAEC) in Blacksburg, Virginia. He is a leading researcher in the economics of water quality and has conducted research on the beneficial aspects of integrated agricultural production systems. He is a world leader in the estimation of consumer preferences. He takes the lead in the economic analyses of best management practice (BMP) recommendations that arise from this research. He designs and implements the survey of consumer willingness to pay for enhanced quality horticulture products that are grown using the BMPs that reduce environmental impacts.

Darrell Bosch is a professor at the AAEC. He conducts research on the economics of producer adoption of agricultural conservation practices for water quality. He has an extensive background in interdisciplinary research for water quality protection and watershed management. He analyzes the cost effectiveness and acceptability to producers of BMP recommendations arising from this research.

James Pease is a professor at the AAEC. He conducts research and extension/outreach programs on the economics of water quality protection in agriculture. He leads the economics outreach activities for the project to growers on the cost of implementing the BMPs, and to wholesalers and retailers on price premiums consumers are willing to pay.

Virginia Tech - Information Technology Team Members

Belinda Carroll (retired) was an educational technology manager in the Department of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resources - Information Technology (AHNR-IT) in Blacksburg, Virginia. She managed website development and educational technology projects for AHNR-IT. In her involvement with the Online Master's of Agricultural and Life Sciences, she consulted with instructors in developing online courses. Carroll was involved in the redesign and development of websites for Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) and the Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Centers (ARECs). She created the Project Collaboration Site for internal communications, guides and coordinated the development of the project website and Knowledge Center learning modules.

Carl Estes is an instructional technologist at AHNR-IT. He creates and manages content for distance education delivery of advanced degree, short courses, workshops and certificate programs. He works closely with faculty and extension professionals in content development and the creation of lectures, presentations, and interactive learning modules for online delivery. He takes leadership in the development of the Knowledge Center learning modules in collaboration with content-contributing scientists.

Josh Chambers is a web technology specialist in the Office of Communications and Marketing. He designs, creates, and manages web sites for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Chambers was instrumental in the redesign and development of websites for VCE and the Virginia ARECs. Chambers takes leadership in the design, implementation, and management of this website.

The Pennsylvania State University Team Members

Gary Moorman is a professor of plant pathology in the Department of Plant Pathology at University Park, Pennsylvania. He has researched and taught plant pathology for over 30 years. His research has centered on Pythium diseases in greenhouse crops. His lab developed two DNA-based technologies to characterize populations of Pythium species and track their movement in production systems. He directs the research housed at Penn State and takes leadership in delivery of the findings on Pythium and greenhouse re-circulating water systems.

Maria Burgos is a doctoral candidate in Moorman's program. She conducts research on the naturally occurring, Pythium- suppressing microbial communities found in greenhouse re-circulating irrigation systems.

The University of Maryland Team Members

John Lea-Cox is associate professor of horticulture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture in College Park, Maryland. He has led a multi-state and -disciplinary effort developing an online Knowledge Center for the nursery and greenhouse industry, which is another platform for rapid technology delivery. He is the lead PI on a $5.2M SCRI Coordinated Agricultural Project (2009) implementing wireless sensor networks for water and nutrient management in the nursery and greenhouse industry. Lea-Cox advise on project planning, water quality data collection, analyses and interpretation, and technology integration.

Andrew Ristvey is an assistant professor of horticulture at the University of Maryland's Wye Agricultural Research and Education Center in Queenstown, Maryland. He coordinates the water quality monitoring and water sampling activities with growers at two nurseries in Maryland and applies his expertise in horticulture in data interpretation and BMP development and integration.

David Ross is a professor emeritus of agricultural engineering in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology in College Park, Maryland. He has extensive expertise in irrigation system design and surface water management. He advises on development of decontamination technology innovation systems. He applies his extensive expertise to ensure that resultant technologies are compatible with current irrigation systems through advising on the research planning, data analyses and data interpretation.

USDA/ARS-Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory Team Member

Warren Copes is an ornamental plant pathologist. He is a leading researcher in the application of chlorine dioxide. He determines the water quality of selected reservoirs in Alabama and Mississippi, takes water samples and sends them to the Hong lab for typing of bacterial diversity. He also takes leadership in extension programming on nursery crops and delivery of new knowledge and technologies to the industry in the southern region.

University of California-Riverside Team Member

Michael Stanghellini is a professor and Cy Mouradick Chair for desert agriculture in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology in Riverside, California. He is a world leading researcher in the biology and control of zoosporic pathogens in hydroponic systems. He advises on research planning, data interpretation and technology integration. He has primarily worked with vegetables as model crops and is well connected with vegetable and other specialty crop industries.

Rutgers University Team Member

Gladis Zinati is an assistant professor of horticulture - nursery management. She contributes to technology development and integration into existing production systems through annual project meetings, and facilitates technology delivery to the green industry in New Jersey and the northeastern region.

Christopher Newport University Team Member

Edward Weiss is a professor and Head of the Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science in Newport News, Virginia. He teaches and leads a diverse department with 26 faculty members. He is in charge of summer intern recruitment, co-advises their research activities and promotes the research team's partnership with his and other small- and medium-sized local colleges and universities.