Emerson M. Del Ponte

Professional interests

I am an associate professor of Plant Pathology, with a focus on epidemiology, in the Departmento de Fitopatologia at Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV) since February 2014. My primary responsibilities are teaching, researching and advising graduate students of the Graduate Program in Plant Pathology in the field of plant disease epidemiology and data analysis/modeling. I kept the same responsibilities I had at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul where I worked during eight years and advised more than twenty students (2006-2013) prior to accepting the offer to move to Viçosa.

Research at the Del Ponte/Epidemiology Lab is focused on plant disease epidemiology, particularly the description, understanding and prediction of plant disease epidemics and the resulting yield losses as well as the characterization of fungal pathogen populations. I use statistical modeling to a) describe epidemic patterns, b) increase understanding of epidemics and c) assess the risk of disease occurrence and spread from the field to global scale. Other epidemiology-related topics include fungicide resistance, weather and climate influence on epidemics, disease and crop loss assessment methods, plant disease management, decision support systems, simulation modeling and meta-analysis. See publication in the my Google Scholar profile.

One of the most enjoyable component of my work is to closely interact and advise students from undergrad to graduate levels. I was pleased to have interacted with exceptional students during all these years. My basic principles are dual respect and strong commitment and a passion for what we do. To successfully work with me, students need to learn how to work independently but this does not mean that they should a) avoid asking questions or working by themselves or b) feel lost or alone. I strive to show them the value of enhancing collaborative work, building reliable professional networks and relationships and learn how to work more effectively using the right tools to be a modern scientist.

Editorial duties

I was early involved in scholarly publication activities since my doctoral studies such as reviewing and editing manuscripts for several journals, which provide me with great experience. In 2009, I began acting as Section Editor for Acta Scientiarum.Agronomy, three years later for Scientia Agricola, and Tropical Plant Pathology (TPP), and, more recently, Plant Disease.

I am currently Editor in Chief for TPP (2017 to 2021) and continue to act as Senior Editor for Plant Disease APS journal (2016-2018). I am strong supporter of open, transparent and reproducible science. All research outcomes of my Lab, such as data and scripts for data analysis, are made available at my GitHub repositories and stored in data repositories such as Open Science Framework. I am supporter of pre-prints for enhanced visibility and feedback from the community prior to peer-review.

More about me

I was born in Pelotas, a city located in the very south of Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. There, I went to college and had a chance to work as young scientist in a research biology Lab. After graduation, I decided that I would like to be a scientist and received my master and doctoral certificate from the Faculdade de Agronomia Eliseu Maciel, Universidade Federal de Pelotas.

I always wanted to have an international experience and, during my doctoral studies, I was fortunate to get a “sandwich” fellowship to spent a year as a visiting student at the Bergstrom’s Lab at the Department of Plant Pathology - currently Plant Pathology and Plant-microbe Section, Cornell University. There, I could deepen my understanding of a fascinating pathogen, Fusarium graminearum, the main cause of Fusarium head blight of small grain crops.

After the defense, during late 2004, I accepted a postdoctoral position at XB Yang Lab, at the Plant Pathology Department in Iowa State University, where I worked for almost two years on modeling soybean rust. I came back to Brazil after accepting a faculty position at the Departmento de Fitossanidade, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, where I worked from 2006 to 2013 and began to offer a graduate course on Plant Disease Epidemiology which is similar to the one offered by Prof. Larry Madden at OSU because it is based on his book.

I the small university town, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, where I live since March 2014, I spend my off hours at home with my wife and son and, during weekends, enjoying a good churrasco (grilled skirt steak) and wine with friends.


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