Ristaino, Jean Beagle

Entomology and Plant Pathology
919-515-7716 fax
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Jean Beagle Ristaino earned her B.S. degree in Biological Sciences and M.S. degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Maryland, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California-Davis. Upon graduation she joined the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University, advancing to full professor in 1998. She was named a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in February of 2012. Much of Dr. Ristaino’s work has been on the Oomycete pathogens in the genus Phytophthora. She works on the population genetics of historical potato famine epidemics and studies the population structure of present day late blight outbreaks. Ristaino’s lab was the first to develop pioneering research techniques to recover DNA from 150-year-old historic herbarium specimens and determine that the strain that caused the potato famine was a Ia mt haplotype. Her work documented an Andean origin for P. infestans and tracked it migration to the US and Ireland. She has also described new species of Phytophthora including P. andina the closest relative of P. infestans found in South America and she has developed taxonomic keys for identification. Her research has been published in Nature, Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her research uses molecular tools for addressing basic ecological questions concerning the spread of microorganisms in nature. She conducts Phytophthora diagnostics workshops in Latin America. Dr. Ristaino’s late blight research has been featured on CNN, Discovery Channel, radio (NPR, BBC, Voice of America) and in newspaper and magazine articles. Dr. Ristaino’ research has not only impacted the understanding and direction of plant pathology, but has also influenced how the general public and policy makers view science and scientists. She serves as a Senior Science advisor and Jefferson Science Fellow at USAID Washington in the Bureau of Food Security.

Global Food Security Program

  Plant Pathology
Country(s) of experience:
  China-Peoples Rep | Costa Rica | Honduras | India | Kenya | Mozambique | Peru | Tanzania | Uganda | United Kingdom |
Type(s) of International Experience:
  Researcher in an international project | Extension provider in an international project | Instructor at an academic institution overseas | Speaker at an international conference | Visiting faculty | Advisor for international students | Host for international faculty | Host for international post-doc
  Sabbatical - United Kingdom
Year: 1996
Country: United Kingdom
Institution: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. UK
  Emerging Phytophthora diseases that threaten food security on crops in Southern Italy
Year: 2018
Description: Phytophthora diseases cause a threat to global food security and the risk of accidental introduction with trade requires improved diagnostic capabilities. As a Fulbright scholar, I plan to: 1) Organize a network of researchers to conduct a survey of economically important Phytophthora species including P. infestans the cause of late blight on potato and tomato in Italy; 2) genotype P. infestans collected; 3) lecture on food security and emerging plant diseases at the University of Catania ; 4) conduct a Phytophthora molecular diagnostic workshop to train phytosanitary diagnosticians, researchers and students from Italy and the Mediterranean region. The overall objective is to deploy a platform of molecular tools needed to prevent Phytophthora infestans outbreaks on important food crops in Italy.
Country: Italy

  Novel disease diagnostics and an early warning system for Phytopthora infestans for smallholder farmers in East Africa
09/01/2014 - 12/31/2017
Funding Agency/Sponsor: Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
Institutional Partner: International Potato Center (CIP) (Centro Internacional de la Papa), Peru
  Capacity Building Phytophthora Workshop in India
09/08/2015 - 09/12/2015
Funding Agency/Sponsor:
Institutional Partner: Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), India
  Modeling Ecosystem Services to Manage the Emerging Infectious Plant Diseases of Africa
01/01/2013 - 12/31/2014
Funding Agency/Sponsor: National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI)
Institutional Partner: Ohio State University, USA
  Building Regional Capacity in Phytophthora Diagnostics in Latin America
01/01/2012 - 12/31/2014
Funding Agency/Sponsor: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Institutional Partner:
  Screening Chinese germplasm for tobacco blue mold resistance.
01/01/2012 - 12/31/2014
Funding Agency/Sponsor:
Institutional Partner: Yunnan Academy of Tobacco Agricultural Sciences (YATAS), China
  IRES in Tropical Plant Pathology with NC State University and the Universidad de Costa Rica.
01/01/2011 - 12/31/2014
Funding Agency/Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institutional Partner: Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica
  DOLE Graduate Research Fellowship for Black Sigatoka Research in Central America
01/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
Funding Agency/Sponsor:
Institutional Partner: Dole Food Company Inc., USA
Project Collaborations:
  Global Plant Health Study Abroad Program
01/01/2011 - 12/31/2016
Funding Agency/Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institutional Partner: Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica