2018 Keynote Speakers

Mr. Austin Hamilton, Southern Valley, Hamilton Growers, Norman Park, GA, USA


Shaker Kousik pictureDr. Shaker Kousik, Research Plant Pathologist, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Charleston, SC, USA

Title: Progress and Challenges in Managing Phytophthora Fruit Rot of Cucurbits

C.S. Kousik (Shaker) received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, LA and has lived in the South for close to three decades working on plant diseases. After his doctoral program at LSU, Shaker worked as a Post-Doctoral Associate at the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. It was in North Carolina (NC), where he first saw the devastation caused by Phytophthora capsici on peppers, which perked his interest and curiosity to work with this important plant pathogen. From NC, he traveled further south to Florida working in the seed industry in Boynton Beach, FL, breeding peppers for resistance to P. capsici and bacterial leaf spot. In 2005, Shaker joined the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory (USVL), USDA, ARS, in Charleston, SC, as a Research Plant Pathologist. His primary research focus at USVL includes developing host plant resistance in watermelon and other vegetable crops to fungal and viral diseases. His experience includes developing strategies to manage Phytophthora fruit rot in watermelon, designing and conducting fungicide trials and developing resistant breeding lines in cucurbits. This work enabled Shaker to release Phytophthora fruit rot resistant watermelon germplasm lines, currently used in breeding programs at USVL, USDA and in the seed industry.