For the first fifteen years of my career, my area of concentration was biological management (a.k.a. biocontrol) of plant pathogens and diseases. As a scientist in private industry, I led the discovery, development, and commercial introduction and adoption of biologically-based products to protect pome, citrus, and stone fruits as well as potatoes from storage decay pathogens. These products were commercially introduced in 1995 and are still in use on several commodities in several industries. In addition, I led a research team investigating the development of plant pathogens to manage invasive aquatic plants. These programs generated research publications, a patent, grant funding, and recognition through invitations to speak at national and international conferences.
Since 2003, most of my activities have been centered on plant biosecurity and disease diagnostics. I have been involved in several national and international programs in this area including two grants from the European Union regarding Crop and Food Biosecurity, a grant from the NATO Security through Science Programme that led to the publication (Springer) of a NATO sponsored book on Crop Biosecurity for which I served as a co-editor and author, and two grants from the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre in Australia. I was an invited instructor at three International Crop Biosecurity Workshops to encourage European nations to develop plant biosecurity preparedness plans and to explore the potential for a European Plant Diagnostic Network. I was an invited speaker at International Symposia in Europe, Canada, China, Australia, India, and the U.S. as well as an invited speaker at institutions of higher learning in the U.S., Europe, and China.
A significant amount of my time and activities have been focused on the establishment, implementation and maintenance of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) and the Great Plains Diagnostic Network (GPDN). I served as the first Executive Director of NPDN and continue to serve as the Director of GPDN. I continue to serve on several of the committees necessary for the operation of the Networks. Research and extension publications have resulted from the collaboration of the GPDN Regional Center Laboratory with USDA ARS and APHIS, as well as the IPM Centers. In recognition of my contributions to the development and success of NPDN I was named a co-recipient of the 2010 USDA NIFA Partnership Award for Innovative Program Models.
My contributions to the areas of plant biosecurity and emerging diseases has been recognized by invitations to speak at several International Conferences as well as at National Academies workshops including the Institute of Medicine Forum on Microbial Threats in 2006 and again in 2010. In 2010, I participated in a National Academies-sponsored International Workshop in China to conduct a scientific evaluation of the implications of advances in synthetic biology to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.
I received two awards for teaching excellence at the University of Nebraska (Hollings Family Award – Innovation and Excellence in Program Delivery) and at Kansas State University (American Society of Agronomy Certificate of Excellence – Extension Material). I was appointed the first Peine Professor of Biosecurity at Kansas State University (2006–2008) to provide leadership in biosecurity research and education.