Ag postdoc a face of the future

Head shot of Alejandra Huerta, Biagracultural Sciences and Pest Management
Alejandra Huerta, postdoc in Biagracultural Sciences and Pest Management

Early career awards are often the first of many recognitions for up-and-coming young researchers. For Alejandra Huerta, a postdoc in Professor Jan Leach’s lab, she certainly hopes this is the case. Huerta, a researcher in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, was just named a Schroth Faces of the Future Early Career Professionals Symposium Awardee, an annual honor given by the American Phytopatholgical Society to four researchers. Recipients are invited to speak at the APS Annual Meeting and are given the “opportunity to present their research and speculate on the future directions of their discipline.”

Developing sustainable crop management

“I am honored to be recognized by a community of scientists that I admire both for their research and public service,” said Huerta. “My ultimate research goal is to develop sustainable crop management strategies to enhance plant health and production to ensure all people have access to enough food for an active and healthy life. To get there, it is fundamental for the advancement of science and society that we build a diverse collaborative workforce that embraces socially responsible and inclusive solutions to societal challenges.”

Each year, APS focuses on a different discipline for the award, and 2017’s focus on “Host-Resistance and Host/Pathogen Interactions” fits well with the work underway in Leach’s lab. Leach is a professor in Colorado State University’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management and is University Distinguished Professor as well as associate dean for research in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

‘Face of the future’

“Alejandra is a well-rounded scholar, with excellent research and communication skills,” said Leach. “With her intellect, creativity, curiosity, and commitment, she certainly will be a world-class ‘face of the future’ for plant pathology and for agricultural sciences in general.”

According to APS, “the symposium is designed to acknowledge up-and-coming researchers shaping the future of their respective scientific discipline.” APS encourages “nominations of forward-thinking scientists in the early stages of their careers who are perceived to be future leaders in the field.”

“I am pleased that Alejandra won this early career award which honors of the life and careers of Milt and Nancy Scroth,” said Amy Charkowski, head of the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. “Milt Scroth was a noted bacteriologist who made several important contributions to the study of plant diseases, and Alejandra is also passionate about discovering how bacteria cause disease in plants.”

National Diversity in STEM Conference

Huerta also recently received an invitation to speak at the 2017 National Diversity in STEM Conference in Salt Lake City, UT in October 2017. Her travel there will be sponsored by an award from the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.

American Phytopatholgical Society

For more information on APS, visit their website.