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Plant pathology researcher receives prestigious National Science Foundation award and funding

Published July 09, 2013

Robert Brueggeman, assistant professor in plant pathology, has received a major national award that will bring more than $600,000 to the plant pathology research program at NDSU and provide additional research opportunities for students.

Brueggeman is being awarded $623,363 as a five-year Faculty Early Career Development award from the National Science Foundation for research that examines mechanisms of disease resistance in cereal crops. Titled “Rapid stem rust resistance responses in barley; non host resistance,” Brueggeman’s research will fill gaps in knowledge of the interactions that occur between important pathogens and the cereal hosts they attack. This includes how the plants mount defensive mechanisms to arrest the pathogen and how environmental factors, including high temperatures, can subvert plant defense against pathogens.

“This research is significant because the understanding of how disease resistance operates against important cereal crop pathogens will allow the maintenance of food security and keep the production of diverse crops an economically viable option for producers,” Brueggeman said. “We also need to understand why some important resistance mechanisms don’t work in different environmental conditions, including temperature fluctuation.”

Brueggeman’s research targets fundamental questions about the function of plant immunity and how to breed or engineer resistance mechanisms that are more resilient to changing biotic and environmental stimuli. “This information will allow breeders an understanding of the different mechanisms of disease resistance in barley and other cereal crops, including wheat, which will allow for a more informed deployment of different defense mechanisms to achieve durable genetic resistance,” he said.

Efforts also will focus on recruiting under-represented groups to participate in Brueggeman’s research. Students participating in the Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education program have opportunities through a summer research session and a science academy to engage in plant pathology research in Brueggeman’s lab. As a member of the Kutenai tribe, Brueggeman notes that similar science opportunities through tribal agencies were instrumental in creating his own interest in plant sciences and genetics. Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education is an educational outreach program sponsored by the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. 

Brueggeman earned his doctorate in crop sciences from Washington State University, Pullman.

Since 1996, 18 faculty members at NDSU have received prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development awards. “NDSU researchers continue a standard of excellence that reflects the institution’s ability to attract the best and the brightest among new faculty researchers,” said Philip Boudjouk, vice president for research, creative activities and technology transfer.

Overall, National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development awardees at NDSU have been awarded more than $8.7 million in grants to conduct research in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, civil and electrical engineering, computer science, pharmaceutical sciences, plant pathology, and coatings and polymeric materials. National Science Foundation career awardees currently at NDSU include faculty members Gregory Cook, Stuart Haring, Seth Rasmussen, Wenfang Sun, Sivaguru Jayaraman and Uwe Burghaus in chemistry and biochemistry, Sanku Mallik in pharmaceutical sciences, Magdy Abdelrahman, Xuefeng Chu, Kalpana Katti and Eakalak Khan in civil engineering, Kendra Greenlee in biological sciences, Hyunsook Do in computer science and Robert Brueggeman in plant pathology.

The National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development program recognizes and supports the early career-development activities of scholars who are likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Recipients are chosen on the basis of creative career development plans that integrate research and education within the context of their university’s mission. 


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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 11:09:03 AM