Current Lab Members and Research Area

Dr. Mahesh Adhikari, Post-Doctoral Fellow

The development of novel coating and pelleting approaches of tomato seeds against Xanthomonas spp. is a key area of Dr. Adhikari’s work. The coating materials in consideration include engineered nanoparticles, systemic acquired resistance inducers, biocontrol agents and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria.

Susannah Da Silva, Ph. D. Student and Lab Manager

Manager of the Lab, Greenhouse and Field research on bacterial, fungal and viral plant pathogens of economic relevance to Florida. Susannah conducts research on novel protectants against whitefly transmitted viruses on tomato and watermelon, management of powdery mildew,  downy mildew and gummy stem blight on watermelon using disease forecasting model, conventional and organic fungicides for management of Alternaria leaf spot on carrot, seed priming technologies for disease management.

Students graduated

Manoj Choudhary, Ph.D. Plant Pathology, Fall 2022; currently Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Florida

Apekshya Parajuli, M.S.Plant Pathology, Summer 2022; currently Ph.D student, University of Florida

Renato Carvalho, Ph.D. Plant Pathology, Summer 2022; currently Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cornell University

Austin Fife, Ph.D. Entomology, Fall 2021; currently Scientist, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Ying-Yu Liao, Ph.D. Plant Pathology, Spring 2020; currently Fungicides Lead, Greenlight Biosciences

Qiurong Fan, M.S. Plant Pathology, Spring 2019; currently Ph.D student, University of Arkansas

Sanju Kunwar, Ph.D Plant Pathology, Fall 2018; currently Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Florida

Amanda Strayer-Scherer, Ph.D Plant Pathology, Fall 2017; currently Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist of Plant Pathology, Auburn University, AL

Mason J. Newark, Ph.D Plant Pathology, Summer 2017; currently Field Technical Manager, Bee Vectoring Technologies

Eric A. Newberry, Ph.D Plant Pathology, Spring 2017; currently Molecular Biologist, Science and Technology, USDA-APHIS, Beltsville, MD

Ying-Yu Liao, M.S. Plant Pathology, Fall 2016; Ph.D student in Paret lab

Amanda Strayer, M.S. Plant Pathology, Summer 2014

Sanju Kunwar, M.S. Plant Pathology, Fall 2014

Yonas Kefialew, Ph.D Plant Pathology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Summer 2014; currently Plant Pathologist at the Gambella Agricultural Research Institute, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethiopia

Dr. Amanda Strayer-Scherer

Dr. Eric A. Newberry

Dr. Sanju Kunwar

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Dr. Binoy Babu, 2013-2017, currently Scientist, Molecular Diagnostics, Department of Plant and Animal Health, British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Melanie Kalischuk, 2017-2019, currently Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Canada

Lab Scientists

Laura Ritchie, 2010-2017, currently Biological Scientist III at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Hank Dankers 2010-2013, Plant Disease Diagnostician (Retired)

Laura Ritchie

Interns, Visiting students, and Scientists mentored

Sruthi Sentil, 2020-2022, Intern, James Rickards High School, Tallahassee, Florida (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Dr. Banito Agnassim, 2019, Associate Professor, University of Lome, Togo (West African Research Association Fellowship)

William Newberry, 2018, Tallahassee Community College (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Dylan Godden, 2018, Tallahassee Community College (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Dr. Dawit Abate, 2017-18, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (Fullbright Distinguished Scholar Fellowship)

Dr. Kamil Duman, 2017, Ministry of Agriculture, Turkey (European Union Fellowship)

Dr. Shomaila Iqbal, 2017, PMAS-Arid Agricultural University, Pakistan (International Research Support Initiative Program, Higher Education Commission of Pakistan)

Dr. Ruqeyah Ahmad, 2016-17, University of Punjab, Pakistan (International Research Support Initiative Program, Higher Education Commission of Pakistan)

Dylan Godden, 2016, Chiles High School, Tallahassee, Florida (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Qiurong Fan, 2016, University of Florida (External grant funded to Dr. Paret)

Nghi Nguyen, 2016, University of Maine, Ohio State University (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Tulin Saligul, 2016, Ministry of Agriculture, Turkey (Government of Turkey, Ministry of Agriculture Fellowship)

Eduardo Evaristo Da Silva, 2015-16, The Federal University of Mata Grosso and EMBRAPA, Brazil (Self-funded)

Dr. Eric Newberry, 2013, University of Florida (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Sanju Kunwar, 2012, University of Florida (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Surendra Osti, 2011, Louisiana State University (External grant fund to Dr. Paret)

Paret Lab - Research Profile


We are plant pathologists. You may be more familiar on a day-to-day basis with medical scientists who study human diseases or veterinary scientists who study animal diseases; the difference in our case is that we study plant diseases! and we study bacteria, fungi and viruses that causes diseases on plants.

Graduate students, Post-doctoral fellows and Research scientists in our lab conduct studies on identification and characterization of plant pathogens of vegetables and ornamental crops; understanding the biology of pathogens and the etiology (cause) of plant diseases; and management of plant diseases of economic relevance in the United States. Internationally, we have conducted research and agricultural development activities in West Africa (Benin, Togo, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire), Ethiopia, China, Philippines, Taiwan and India.

Dr. Mathews L. Paret

Associate Professor of Plant Pathology

University of Florida


Dr. Mason J. Newark

Qiurong Fan

Dr. Ying-Yu Liao

Dr. Binoy Babu

Dr. Melanie Kalischuk

Kiersten Bushong, Ph.D student

Management of bacterial leaf spot of cucurbits caused by Pseudomonas syringae strains with nanomaterials is a key focus of Kiersten’s research. This includes studies on bacterial seed infection and treatments for reducing P. syringae population. Strain characterization of P. syringae on cucurbits to under changes in populations by whole genome sequencing, field managment of the disease using nanomaterials, and plant defense inducers are other areas of research.

Dr. Abdul Jailani, Post-Doctoral Fellow

The design and development of field deployable molecular diagnostic techniques for major cucurbit viruses in Florida including cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV), cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV), and squash vein yellowing virus utilizing Recombinase Polymerase Amplification is Dr. Jailani's major research area. Additonal projects include monitoring and characterizing novel viruses affecting vegetable and ornamental crop production.

Dr. Renato Carvalho

Dr. Manoj Choudhary

Dr. Austin Fife

Apekshya Parajuli

Sruthi Sentil, Scientist in Artificial Intelligence

Leads the program on microscopic and macroscopic image classification of plant diseases on tomato, cucurbits and pepper for the lab. Ms. Sentil also works closely with industry partners in teh space of artifical intellgence in testing and evaluation of models developed. Currently investing time in developing an interactive website for "understandable AI" for plant pathologists.

Dr. Fanny B. Iriarte, Plant Disease Diagnostician

Manager of the Diagnostic Cinic and works on a daily basis in identifying the cause of plant diseases (fungi, bacteria and viruses) affecting crops in North Florida, South Georgia and South Alabama, and communicates with farmers, extension agents, crop consultants and master gardens to share diagnostic information. Fanny also provides research support on projects including bacterial leaf spot of watermelon, bacterial spot of pepper, whitefly transmitted viruses on cucurbits, and trains graduate students, visiting students and interns on basic and advanced diagnostic techniques.

Derek Hurley, Field Manager

Manager of field horticultural operations on projects related with carrot alternaria leaf blight managment, and tomato, pepper and cucurbit fungal and bacterial diseases. In addition, Derek leads efforts in establishing studies on new crops for the region.

Sudeep Adhikari, Research Intern

The development of field-based rapid diagnostics for major cucurbit viruses of economic importance in Florida by leveraging Recombinase Polymerase Amplification is Sudeep’s major research area. In addition to it, characterizing and monitoring the novel and known viruses in naturally infected watermelon fields by the application of molecular and genomic tools for virus diagnostics is an area of research.  

Megala Devi, Visiting Student

Testing of field-based diagnostic techniques for insect vectors of plant pathogens and its biotypes is the primary focus of Ms. Devi's research.    

Sai Hema Sree Battula, Scientist - Artificial Intelligence

Research on understanding and applying the machine learning algorithms to classify various rose plant diseases under the various environmental conditions. The goal of the research is to study the potential of image and object classification approaches approach in improving identification of plant diseases affecting roses.

Ariana Collins, Volunteer

Sean Wang, Ph.D student

Research focuses on various aspects of carrot disease management in North Florida. One of the major problems faced by producers in this region is Alternaria leaf blight, which is caused by the pathogen Alternaria alternata. Sean's work involves studying the epidemiology of the disease, evaluating the performance of fungicides, and developing cultural control strategies against the disease. Sean also investigates disease management strategies for Cottony rot on carrot, caused by the pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Application of machine learning techniques for carrot disease image classification is another area of work.