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Featured Researcher Bio - NFHB Forum Poster Winner January 2023



2022 National Fusarium Head Blight Forum Poster Competition Winners

The 2022 NFHB Forum Poster Competition featured 33 posters presented by 23 graduate students and 7 post-doctoral researchers. Winners in both categories (Graduate Student and Post-Doctoral Researcher) received cash prizes generously sponsored by BASF. Evaluations consisted of two rounds where 27 judges evaluated the posters for content and professionalism. A huge thank you to all the judges and BASF for making this year’s event possible. Here are highlights for each of the 2022 Poster Competition awardees...


Post-Doctoral Researcher Category




1st Place: Megha Gupta, University of Maryland , Gene Discovery and Engineering Resistance, Poster #129 “Wheat Pore-forming Toxin-like Protein Confers a Broad Spectrum Resistance Against Multiple Fungal Pathogens in Arabidopsis”

Megha is from New Delhi, India. She completed her PhD in plant biotechnology from the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB) an autonomous institution of education, training, and research established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT, India). Megha is a post-doctoral researcher working with Nidhi Rawat at the University of Maryland. Her research focuses on dissecting the factors involved in resistance mechanisms in wheat-Fusarium interactions. When not in the lab, Megha enjoys exploring natural places, traveling, trekking, dancing, and cooking.












2nd Place: Wanderson Bucker Moraes, The Ohio State University, FHB Management, Poster #105 “Rainfastness of Fungicides for Fusarium Head Blight and Deoxynivalenol Reduction in Soft Red Winter Wheat”

Wanderson is from Muniz Freire, Espírito Santo, Brazil. He completed his PhD from The Ohio State University. Wanderson is a post-doctoral researcher working with Pierce Paul. His research focuses on addressing knowledge gaps in the biology, epidemiology, and management of the FHB-mycotoxin-wheat system. The overall goal is to develop a better understanding of factors affecting FHB management and grain contamination specifically rainfastness of fungicides and the effects of environmental conditions after symptom development on the fate of mycotoxins in the grain. In addition, Wanderson studied the effects of sample size on FHB index to develop sampling protocols to quantify FHB more accurately in research plots. His research has generated new information to allow researchers to better understand this complex disease-toxin system and develop management strategies to mitigate its negative impacts on grain yield and quality. Wanderson enjoys watching soccer games and making barbecue when taking a break from his research.








3rd Place: Xiaoxi Qi, North Dakota State University, Food Safety and Toxicology, Poster #121 “Mechanisms of Antifungal and Mycotoxin Inhibitory Properties of Thyme Essential Oil and its Major Chemical Constituents in Emulsion-based Delivery System”

Xiaoxi is from China. She completed her BS and MS from Northeast Agricultural University in China and received her PhD from North Dakota State University and is now a post-doc working with Jiajia Rao. Her PhD research focused on improving the viability of probiotics by using different encapsulation techniques. In her post-doctoral research, Xiaoxi studies the anti-fungal activities and mycotoxin inhibition efficacies of essential oils and their mode of action on Fusarium graminearum by forming an emulsion delivery system. Outside of her research, Xiaoxi enjoys traveling and visiting vintage stores. She is amazed by the antique collections and enjoys feeling as if she has traveled in time.













Graduate Student Category




1st Place: Bhanu Dangi, North Dakota State University, Variety Development and Host Resistance, Poster #155 “Diversification of FHB Resistance QTL in Winter Wheat Germplasm”

Bhanu is originally from the Midwestern region of Nepal. He is currently pursuing his MS degree in plant sciences with an emphasis on plant breeding and genetics from North Dakota State University under the guidance of G. Francois Marais. His research focuses on introgressing Fhb7 into North Dakota winter wheat lines and detecting genetic variation for resistance of advanced lines in the breeding program. Apart from his research, Bhanu enjoys cooking and hanging out with his friends.














2nd Place: Bhavit Chhabra, University of Maryland, Gene Discovery and Engineering Resistance, Poster #126 “Discovery of a Susceptibility Factor for Fusarium Head Blight on Chromosome 7A of Wheat”

Bhavit is from Punjab, India. He is currently pursuing his PhD in plant sciences at the University of Maryland under the direction of Nidhi Rawat. His research focuses on exploring novel susceptibility factors for wheat-Fusarium granimearum pathosystems and testing the efficacy of new fungicides in field evaluations. Bhavit enjoys traveling and “exploring the unexplored” as well as hiking when not conducting research.










3rd Place: Yishan Zhang, University of British Columbia, Pathogen Biology and Genetics, Poster #148 “Decoding Adaptive Traits in Fusarium graminearum Using Integrated Omics”

Yishan is from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She is pursuing an MS degree in plant pathology under the guidance of Gurcharn Singh Brar. Her research focuses on mapping the quantitative trait locus for aggressiveness towards durum wheat in Fusarium graminearum. In her spare time, Yishan enjoys photography.













Congratulations to all the 2022 NFHB Forum Poster Competition awardees on their accomplishments. The USWBSI wishes each of them the best in all their future scientific endeavors. Additionally, the USWBSI would like to extend a thank you and congratulations to all the poster authors for making the Poster Sessions enjoyable. The 2022 National FHB Forum Abstracts of all the posters and presentations are available for viewing.


You can also check out the series of previous USWBSI Featured Researchers.