UTIA PhD Candidate Receives Two National Honors for Achievements in Plant Pathology

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Graduate Student Selected to Present Research, Receive Scholarship

JACKSON, Tenn. – Autumn McLaughlin, Herbert College of Agriculture PhD candidate in the University of Tennessee Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, was selected as one of five students to participate in the 2023 I.E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium and as one of two recipients of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) graduate student scholarship.

McLaughlin presented her research on mycotoxins during the annual symposium in Denver, Colorado, a national event hosted by the American Phytopathological Society (APS). As a recipient of the NCGA graduate student scholarship, she will also receive a one-year $2,500 scholarship available to students working toward a degree in an agricultural field whose research benefits corn crop production. McLaughlin will use the award to continue her graduate studies at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA).

Heather Kelly, UTIA Extension specialist, plant pathology researcher and academic advisor for McLaughlin, says she is proud of her student’s accomplishments. “Autumn has conducted exceptional research, and I know this is only the beginning of the impact she will have on the field of plant pathology. It is truly remarkable to see students break new ground, and I hope to continue mentoring Autumn as a promising new member of the next generation of plant scientists.”

McLaughlin’s recent successes have led to her accepting a position at Corteva Agriscience as one of their Crop Protection Discovery and Development field scientists. She said she is excited to begin this new journey in her career, and that she is thankful for the research and educational opportunities available at UTIA.

“I am honored to accept the position at Corteva Agriscience, and I know that my work at the University of Tennessee is part of what made it possible,” says McLaughlin. “Plant pathology is an important part of agriculture, and I am proud to be among the talented scientists and researchers that are looking for new ways to keep agriculture and food production safe for communities around the world.”

The I.E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium is an annual event hosted by the APS featuring student research presentations on a yearly theme. The 2023 symposium focused on “systems-based approaches, tools, and tactics to combat mycotoxins for a sustainable and safe food supply.” McLaughlin presented her mycotoxin research to attendees from across the United States as part of a five-student panel.

The NCGA graduate student scholarship is available to all NCGA members pursuing a graduate degree in an agricultural field. McLaughlin’s submission was not only selected as one of two in the nation to receive the scholarship, but it was also praised by Carol Reed, executive director of the Tennessee Corn Promotion Board, for its impressiveness and significance to the field of plant pathology.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is composed of UT AgResearch, UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT Extension and the Herbert College of Agriculture. Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the Institute touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.

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Autumn McLaughlin, PhD Candidate