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Plant pathologist Lindsey du Toit named fellow of the American Phytopathological Society

Posted by Seth Truscott | May 25, 2022
Lindsey du Toit
Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist Lindsey du Toit.

Internationally recognized for her work protecting valuable seed crops from diseases, Lindsey du Toit has been named a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society.

A professor and Extension Plant Pathologist at Washington State University’s Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, du Toit studies the origins, spread, patterns, and management of diseases affecting important vegetable and vegetable seed crops at home and around the globe.

In August, she will join nine other new fellows of the APS at the society’s 2022 Plant Health meeting. The fellowship honor recognizes members with distinguished contributions to the science and their society, including original research, teaching, leadership, and outreach.

“It takes a village to raise an effective faculty member, and an even bigger village to raise a fellow,” du Toit said. “This award is an acknowledgement to the many mentors and colleagues in South Africa, the U.S.A., and other countries who encouraged me, pushed me beyond my comfort zone, and inspired me to recognize the gratifying career I could have in plant pathology.”

Dr. du Toit is a past president and councilor-at-large to the society, which is made up of nearly 5,000 plant pathologists in higher education, government, industry and private practice. APS advances high-quality, innovative plant pathology research and the sharing of scientific innovations worldwide.

Dr. du Toit carrot harvest pic
Above, Dr. Lindsey du Toit carries a box of produce during a carrot research trial harvest. Below, du Toit with members of the harvest crew during an organic trial in Washington state.

Organic trial harvest crew with du ToitThe current Alfred Christianson Distinguished Professor in Vegetable Seed Science at WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, du Toit currently leads or collaborates on multi-million-dollar research efforts investigating pests and pathogens of onions, studying crippling diseases in spinach seed, seeking genetic traits for improved carrots and sweet corn, and managing seedborne pathogens of table beets and Swiss chard. She has been a WSU scientist since 1998.

Dr. du Toit earned her bachelor’s degree in plant pathology at the University of Natal-Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, and holds advanced degrees in plant pathology from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

“I hadn’t heard of plant pathology when I started my undergraduate degree,” du Toit said. “Once I recognized that this profession afforded the opportunity to work in science and directly with the communities affected by plant pathogens, I was hooked.”

As an undergraduate, she was given a gift membership to APS by a professor.

“I had no clue, reading the first APS newsletter I received in South Africa in 1991, what impact this membership would have on my career,” du Toit said. “The professional mentoring, networking, and development opportunities provided by APS to graduate students and early career professionals are incredible.”

The society has offered more than 1,200 student travel awards, and APS meetings are rich in scientific exchange and professional development opportunities. Members produce books, journals, and other resources for practitioners around the world.

“APS is a supportive community that believes in the value of our science for improving communities globally,” du Toit said. “It is a sincere pleasure to give back to the APS community that has given me so much.”

Learn about Dr. du Toit’s work on her faculty web page and at the WSU NWREC website. Learn more about APS here.