Tongling Ge: Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award

Tonling Ge in a laboratory holding a pippette.
Photo taken in adherence with health and safety guidelines.

The Norris Charles Clements Graduate Student Award was established to recognize an outstanding graduate student in agricultural sciences, whose research has the potential to significantly shape the future of Maine agriculture. 

Tongling Ge came to the University of Maine to unravel the origins and explore potential control methods of potato blackleg and soft rot. The pathogen behind the diseases, Dickeya dianthicola, has caused catastrophic potato crop failures—resulting in multimillion dollar losses for Maine’s most valuable vegetable industry. 

Under the guidance of her advisor, Jianjun Hao, associate professor of plant pathology in the School of Food and Agriculture and School of Biology and Ecology, Ge has mentored students, led field trials, and assumed responsibility for processing samples to help Maine’s potato farmers monitor for disease.  

Ge’s forthcoming papers in the journals Plant Disease and Microorganisms represent breakthroughs in understanding of where and how the outbreaks of blackleg and soft rot may have originated. 

After she graduates with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences this May, Ge plans to return to China to pursue a career as a plant pathologist.