CLEMSON – Melissa Munoz, a Clemson graduate student in Plant and Environmental Sciences, has received the 2018 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship.

Melissa Munoz

Melissa Munoz, a Clemson student in Plant and Environmental Sciences, has received the 2018 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship.
Image Credit: Clemson University

This scholarship is for $10,000 and will be distributed over two consecutive years. Greg Royer, American Floral Endowment chairman and Education Committee chair, said competition was strong for the scholarship this year.

“There were a record number of applications for the second year in a row, which shows the growing interest and need for these scholarships,” Royer said. “The high quality of students is a testament to their exceptional determination and passion, and I am confident these future leaders will help the industry progress.”

Munoz graduated with her bachelor’s degree from the National University of Colombia at Medellin in 2016 and is currently enrolled in the master’s program at Clemson. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree after completing her master’s degree study.

Her research project focuses on the management of Botrytis in cut roses, a huge problem facing growers that costs the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.  She works directly with cut rose growers, visiting farms and evaluating incidence from commercial shipments to effects of cultural practices in the greenhouse.

“I am so delighted and grateful to receive this prestigious scholarship,” Munoz said. “Having the industry’s interest and support is fundamental and the Paul Ecke Scholarship will help progress my research. I am very excited to continue this research that I hope will make a difference and improve the conditions for the floral industry.”

AFE is funding a Botrytis research project that is the focus of Melissa’s research program. She is working with professors Jim Faust and Guido Schnabel on this project. Munoz presented her preliminary research findings on behalf of the Endowment during the Proflora 2017 event in Colombia to a standing-room only audience of nearly 150.

“She is doing really good research that will benefit the industry worldwide,” said Terril A. Nell, Endowment research coordinator.

Beyond pursuing her doctorate, Munoz’s career goals include continuing and expanding her Botrytis research and eventually becoming a researcher, educator and scientist.

“The floriculture industry constantly faces complex challenges that require prompt and effective solutions, and I’m determined to keep working to develop these solutions,” she said.

The Paul Ecke, Jr. Scholarship was established in 2010 and honors the late Paul Ecke, Jr., who made significant contributions to the floriculture industry and believed strongly in research and education. He recognized that creative scientists and educators are required to lead the floral industry in the 21st century and beyond.

This merit-based, prestigious scholarship has been funded by industry contributions and the Ecke family to assist in funding the education of floriculture graduate students (MS or Ph.D.) at land-grant institutions, who will become leading floricultural scientists and educators.

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Source: American Floral Endowment