Kuhn and Papa Awards

Kenneth E. Papa, 1931-1986

Dr. Kenneth E. Papa

Dr. Kenneth E. Papa (1931-1986) began his career as an Assistant Professor of Physiological Genetics in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant Genetics at the University of Georgia in 1964.  He served as the chair of the departmental admissions committee and acted as a liaison between the students and the Graduate School.  He rose to a full professor in 1978.  Though his teaching and administrative duties took time, he carried on an active research program in fungal genetics.

2024 Papa Graduate Student Award Winner

The Kenneth E. Papa Outstanding Graduate Student Award is presented in honor of Ken Papa (1931-1986), a former professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, who was a renowned fungal geneticist and one of the first geneticists at the University of Georgia. He played a major role in the Plant Pathology graduate program through his service as Graduate Coordinator, and was elected Fellow of the Georgia Academy of Science in 1977.  The 2024 Kenneth E. Papa Award was presented to Xiomy Janiria Pinchi Davila, a Ph.D. candidate working under the direction of Dr. Anny Chung, Assistant Professor of Plant Ecology. Xiomy’s research focuses on Sorghum bicolor, understanding how it’s root microbiome assembles, and using root microbiomes to develop better management strategies to improve biomass feedstocks for sustainable biofuel production. As global demand for biofuels is projected to grow by 28% in the next five years, sorghum has emerged as a promising genetic model for biofuel feedstock research due to its worldwide use, high productivity, stress tolerance, and low input requirements. Sorghum’s ability to tolerate harsh environments may be enhanced by its association with microorganisms that colonize the roots, such as dark septate fungi (DSE) and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). In her research, Xiomy aims to disentangle how host age, length of drought, and drought severity affect root exudates, root-microbiome assembly and host biomass. She also tests if early DSE arrival induces strong priority effects over AMF colonization, host interaction outcome, and root-microbiome assembly.  

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Dr. Cedric Kuhn

Dr. Cedric Kuhn joined the Plant Pathology Department at the Georgia Experiment Station in 1960 as the state's first plant virology, laying the foundation for his program.  He served as the head of the Department of Plant Pathology at the station.  Eventually he relocated to the Athens campus to join the teaching-research department in 1970.  Dr. Kuhn was awarded the University of Georgia Alumni Association's Distinguished Faculty Award, the Gamma Sigma Delta Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, and was honored as an APS Fellow.

2024 Cedric Kuhn Outstanding MS Graduate Student

The Cedric Kuhn Outstanding M.S. Student Award is presented in honor of Cedric Kuhn (1930-2000), who in the late 1950s became Georgia’s first plant virologist. Kuhn was first located at the Georgia Experiment Station in Griffin, later transferring to the Athens campus. He served as the first Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Plant Pathology, playing an instrumental role in the development of the doctoral program. Kuhn was named a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) in 1987 and was awarded the D.W. Brooks Excellence in Research Award in 1989. The 2024 Cedric Kuhn Outstanding M.S. Student awardee is Walt Sanders, who is mentored by Dr. Phillip Brannen, Extension Fruit Disease Specialist. Walt’s research focuses on further understanding one of the oldest fungicidal chemistries: elemental sulfur. He studies sulfur’s interaction with novel spray techniques, the phytotoxic effects of sulfur, and the use of surfactant adjuvants in commercial tank mixes and air induction nozzles. This research seeks to gain insight into sulfur’s capability to cause damage, which will be crucial in further controlling the fungal disease powdery mildew, particularly with its rising resistance to systemic fungicides.

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