Tom Nordlie (352) 392-0400
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Weed-control expert Raghavan Charudattan has been named chairman of the University of Florida’s plant pathology department.
Charudattan, who served as interim chairman since June, was ideal for the position because of his familiarity with the department and outstanding performance, said Jimmy Cheek, UF senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
“He has a stellar record in research and education and we believe that he will be an outstanding leader,” Cheek said. “He certainly understands the issues related to plant pathology in the state and nation and will strengthen the department’s research and educational programs.”
A professor of plant pathology, Charudattan has been with UF since 1970, when he was a postdoctoral associate. He joined the faculty in 1973 as an assistant professor.
“My career at UF has been kind of unusual, in that I was hired to develop a new program, to use plant pathogens to control weeds – that’s not something plant pathology departments usually take on,” he said. “The program is known around the world now and has brought IFAS quite a bit of recognition and I’m very proud of that.”
As chairman, Charudattan said he plans to enhance the department’s strength in several areas, notably its research on new and emerging plant diseases threatening Florida crops. Citrus greening will receive major emphasis; other pathogens due for increased attention include soybean rust and several viruses spread by whiteflies.
Charudattan is perhaps best known for discovering that tobacco mild green mosaic tobamovirus kills tropical soda apple, a troublesome invasive weed affecting pastureland through the Southeast. He holds 11 patents and is president and chief executive officer of a Gainesville-based company, BioProdex Inc., seeking to commercialize plant pathogens for weed control.
He is a co-founder and longtime coordinating editor of the scientific journal Biological Control: Theory and Application in Pest Management, the leading journal devoted to the management of pest animals and plants using their natural enemies.
International collaboration has been a major feature of Charudattan’s career. He has participated in cooperative research in seven countries and his laboratory has hosted visiting scientists from nine countries.
He earned a bachelor of science in botany from the University of Madras in Madras, India in 1961, and a master of science in botany and chemistry from the institution in 1963. He earned a doctoral degree in plant pathology and mycology from Madras in 1968.