It’s September, and Tim Waller’s senior paid summer research farming internship has just come to a close. . . but some exciting prospects relating to it are still in store for him. Together with his mentor, plant pathologist Dr. Peter Oudemans, Tim has just submitted an abstract of his findings on the ominous sounding “Black shadow” syndrome of highbush blueberry. He will be presenting it an upcoming American Phytopathological Society Northeast Regional meeting. Tim, Professor Oudemans, and USDA scientist James Polashock are preparing a manuscript on Black shadow for submission to a peer reviewed scientific journal.
When a group of local blueberry farmers belonging to the NJ Blueberry Research Council learned our school was supporting an undergraduate research farm student internship with Professor Oudemans at Marucci Center, they said “Someone needs to figure out this Black shadow problem damaging our crops,” and contributed additional funds to the effort. Tim’s work on Black shadow included isolation of the fungi causing the syndrome and confirming its identity using DNA sequencing methods. His results show that while some fungi in the spectrum are pathogenic, others may actually be beneficial.
Tim grew up in Moorestown, NJ. He is an avid gardener, having helped in his grandfather’s garden since the age of five. He worked throughout high school with a friend who operates a local diversified farm market called Flying Feather Farm, while still making time for his passion – snow boarding. He began his college career at Burlington County College, taking courses such as Organic Chemistry, and later transferred to Rutgers to complete his Bio Sci major.
Tim says, “What made the summer farm experience awesome was not just the field research working with Professor Oudemans. Standing out in the fields with the blueberry growers, ag dealers, and scientists felt like a family of people, an interwoven community.” Professor Oudemans said Tim did “a bang up job over the summer with Black shadow and has excellent potential for graduate school; ditto on awesome.” Tim plans to apply to the Rutgers graduate program in Plant Pathology.
Hometown: Moorestown, NJ
Education: B.S. Biological Sciences
Internship: Rutgers NJAES Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Farm
Position After Graduation: Plans Rutgers graduate program, Plant Pathology