WESLACO — Dr. Olufemi “Femi” Alabi has been named the new plant pathologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, according to an official there.
Dr. Ruben Saldana, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service district administrator at the center, said Alabi will assume his duties Aug. 19.
“Dr. Alabi is highly motivated and highly qualified to fill this very important position for South Texas,” Saldana said. “His background, training and education make him a perfect fit. We look forward to introducing him to our community, and to the many positive contributions his investigations and studies will make to this area.”
Alabi’s responsibilities will include providing leadership and coordination for AgriLife Extension plant disease management for South Texas, and maintaining interaction with growers and other agricultural professionals in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Saldana said.
“Dr. Alabi’s program will focus on diverse cropping systems critically significant to the productivity and sustainability of South Texas agriculture.”
Dr. David Appel, AgriLife Extension program leader for plant pathology and microbiology in College Station, said Alabi will ably fill a very important position.
“Plant diseases have historically taken a serious toll on many of the crops in the Rio Grande Valley,” he said. “The area is constantly threatened by new, invasive pathogens with the potential to cause devastating economic impacts to agricultural productivity. Dr. Alabi will be able to help educate growers in detecting and understanding these plant diseases so that they can be better prepared to prevent and manage them.”
Alabi will be able to apply his previous experiences to a variety of plant pathogens of various crops, including fruits, vegetables, citrus and potatoes, Appel said.
A native of Nigeria, Alabi earned his bachelor’s degree at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and his master’s degree at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, both in Nigeria.
After working briefly at the Virology and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Alabi earned his doctorate degree in plant pathology at Washington State University in December 2009.
His doctorate degree focused on the epidemiology, molecular detection and genetic diversity studies of selected viruses infecting cassava and wine grapes, Saldana said. Alabi then worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Washington State’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Prosser, Wash., focusing on genetic and molecular studies of viruses that infect grapevines.
Alabi is a member of the Virology and Tropical Plant Pathology Committee of the American Phytopathological Society.