FMC Corporation today announced the winners of the 2024 FMC New Investigator Award. These awards recognize outstanding early career professors impacting fields of science aligned with FMC's research. The awardees were selected by an interdisciplinary committee of scientists from FMC's R&D organization and will receive an unrestricted $50,000 research grant.
"Now in its fourth year, the FMC New Investigator Awards support science and research that will lead to the breakthroughs of tomorrow,” said Dr. Seva Rostovtsev, vice president and chief technology officer at FMC. “This program creates exciting opportunities to purse innovative approaches that address challenges in agriculture.”
Winner: Dr. Alyssa Koehler, University of Delaware
Dr. Koehler's extension plant pathology lab bridges molecular and applied research to support agricultural sustainability and improve crop production in the Mid-Atlantic region. Dr. Koehler's research includes pathogen identification and molecular quantification as well as field evaluation of chemical, biological and cultural management strategies for diseases impacting various crops. In addition to sharing best management approaches through extension education, Dr. Koehler has served as President of the American Phytopathological Society Potomac Division and as MGMT Area Vice-Chair with the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative.
Winner: Dr. Roeland Berendsen, Utrecht University
Dr. Berendsen’s research explores how plants, through millions of years of co-evolution, have developed relationships with the microbes in their vicinity. These microbial communities play pivotal roles in plant health and survival. A significant aspect of Dr. Berendsen’s work focuses on how plants actively recruit and foster beneficial microbes that help them defend against the microbial agents that cause plant disease. By uncovering these processes, his research could provide insights into natural, sustainable methods of enhancing plant health and resistance to various biotic stresses.
Winner: Dr. Sidney Wilkerson-Hill, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Synthetic Organic Chemistry
A key focus of Dr. Wilkerson-Hill’s research is to develop new reactions to obtain pyrethroids, which are small molecules used to combat vectors for malaria. Dr. Wilkerson-Hill is particularly interested in identifying new pyrethroids with enhanced photostability, reduced off-target toxicological properties to beneficial pollinators, and reduced insect resistance profiles. To accomplish these goals, Dr. Wilkerson-Hill’s research group is forging new routes to orphaned cyclopropanes, a structural motif found in many pyrethroids, by developing methods to use non-stabilized carbene intermediates.