Verchot named resident director for Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Dallas

Writer: Kathleen Phillips, 979-845-2872, ka-phillips@tamu.edu

           DALLAS – Dr. Jeanmarie Verchot has been named resident director for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Dallas effective Dec. 1, according to Dr. Craig Nessler, Texas A&M AgriLife Research director in College Station.

           Verchot was professor of entomology and plant pathology at Oklahoma State University.

           “Dr. Verchot’s experience as a researcher as well as her track record in obtaining funding for important scientific work made her the lead candidate for the position after a thorough national search,” Nessler said. “She brings skills that are vital for helping us remain relevant to citizens in the metroplex.”

           Nessler noted that the Dallas facility, located at 17360 Coit Road, is a proving ground for all of urban Texas, and the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth metropolitan area in particular. The combined efforts of experts from two state agencies — AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service — focus on “urban needs in planning and implementing strategies for convenience, quality of life, economic attractiveness and sustainable stewardship of natural resources.”

           It is recognized for the development and commercialization of many species of turfgrass and ornamental plants adaptable to urban settings, as well as the development and transfer of  science-based solutions to “heat island effects, water needs within urban settings, and reconstructing incomplete or contaminated urban soils.”

Future plans include studies in biological and agricultural engineering, natural resource management, urban wildlife management, and park and recreation sciences, officials said.

           Verchot obtained a bachelor’s in molecular genetics from Rutgers University in 1987 and her doctorate in microbiology from Texas A&M University in 1995.

Her main focus as a researcher has pertained to virus-host interactions in plants. Her work has involved both molecular and cellular biology, and soil-borne viruses. Her research has identified host factors that contribute to virus infection as well as plant heat tolerance. Another project, and most recent application of her work, has been to “tackle viruses influencing the ornamental canna lily industry, which are dispersed through global trade,” she said.

Prior to joining Oklahoma State in 1998, Verchot did post-doctoral research at Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England, for two years. She also was a research technician for Enichem Americas in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1987-91.

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