University of Florida Ph.D. student earns national award

FORT PIERCE, Fla.—A doctorate candidate who works to understand the most serious citrus disease worldwide has been recognized by American Society for Horticultural Science leaders as an outstanding graduate student.

Lukas Hallman, now in the final year of a doctoral degree, is named among a group of nationwide peers with the ASHS Outstanding Graduate Horticulture Student Award.

Hallman pursues a Ph.D. in Horticultural Sciences with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His graduate studies are supervised by Lorenzo Rossi, assistant professor of horticultural sciences with expertise in plant root biology. UF’s Department of Horticultural Science ranks among the top 10 in the world for World University Rankings. The department ranks 3rd in the nation, according to US News and World Report.

“Hallman exhibits remarkable grit and commitment to Florida and American horticulture,” said Rossi. “Lukas has been a teaching assistant since 2020, with excellent student reviews.”

Ph.D. research aim

Rossi expands on Hallman’s performance as a scholar who learns constantly. Hallman works long hours in citrus groves conducting nutrient and cover crops experiments on citrus trees affected by citrus greening, that kills the fruit trees in the world’s citrus production regions. Together, the two scientists investigated the effect of oak mulch on improving soil quality for affected trees. Other studies included excavating infected trees to examine the wood for long-term plant disease progression.

Three scientists meet at laboratory
Dr. Paolo Cherubini, Dr. Lorenzo Rossi, and Lukas Hallman meet in Zűrich, Switzerland, to examine citrus tree wood and the disease progression of citrus greening.

Research with world-renowned tree-ring expert in Zürich, Switzerland

That work was conducted recently in a world-class laboratory at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL in Zürich, Switzerland. During the 2-month-long internship early this spring, Hallman studied grapefruit and sweet orange tree wood samples under the direction of Paolo Cherubini, distinguished in his expertise with tree-ring studies. That work involved slicing wood into thin strips, staining and examination under microscopes. Rossi, Cherubini, and Hallman will continue their work to analyze the data from their studies.

According to the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) website, the professional organization officially recognizes outstanding graduate students at the master’s or doctoral level in horticulture. “Students are selected based on their academic achievements, quality of the thesis or dissertation research, leadership abilities, participation in departmental or program activities, and service to their departments.”

Rossi commends Hallman’s responsibilities as a graduate student. Hallman is punctual with all assignments and long-term project deadlines, completing each with high-merit work. And, Hallman has served ASHS as a leader for student events at conferences.

“Lukas served as a member of the ASHS graduate student activities committee; he is always ready to assist with special events and competitions,” Rossi said. “Lukas also recently served as a member of the search and screen committee for the citrus production and other tree crop horticulture faculty member position.

Lukas Hallman is on track to graduate with a Ph.D. in December 2024.


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Posted: May 14, 2024

Category: Agriculture, Crops, Professional Development,

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