Scholarship Program

Each year, the Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) awards one $10,000 academic scholarship to a graduate student with strong interest in research that can directly benefit the potato industry. Research focus may include basic research or applied research that improves potato production efficiency, addresses pest management and disease issues, increases consumer benefits from potato consumption and or produces knowledge related to advancing the competitiveness of the U. S. potato industry.

2022 Scholarship Winner

Paige Hickman, a Ph.D. student at University of Idaho, studying plant-parasitic nematodes, insect pests, and diseases of potato is the recipient of the 2022-23 Academic Scholarship.

As a Ph.D. student, Hickman’s research focuses on creating practical control strategies and educating growers on sustainable pest and disease management. Her research is currently focused on potato cyst nematode (PCN), a quarantined pest in Idaho. The initial PCN discovery in 2006 caused a halt in international export of Idaho potatoes, severely impacting growers and the related supply chain. USDA APHIS, in coordination with the State of Idaho and the industry, contained the threat and trade resumed.  Over the succeeding years, control and eradication strategies resulted in the quarantined area being substantially reduced, but the PCN-afflicted growers that remain are desperate for better eradication strategies.

In her application, Hickman shared “I want to offer practical solutions and prepare strategies to control PCN. I am evaluating new trap crops and developing crop rotation schemes with trap crops and resistant varieties, developing predictive models to illustrate impact of PCN infestations on common potato varieties. Ultimately, my goal is to help eradicate PCN and preemptively establish controls to safeguard the potato industry.”

Dr. Louise-Marie Dandurand, Associate Professor at the University of Idaho and the Director of the University of Idaho Pale Cyst Nematode Project describes Paige as “although independent, she judiciously seeks information and feedback from myself, her committee members, or other resources available to her (such as post docs). She has a high intellectual capacity and curiosity. Ms. Hickman has consistently demonstrated the capacity to do independent research, and this speaks to her intellect and ability to learn, all necessary to be successful as a graduate student, and to focus her chosen career path in academia. She consistently impresses me with the depth of her knowledge on a diversity of topics, her ability to ask questions, and her reliability to follow through on all her assignments.”

As a part of her campus life, Hickman is secretary of the Aldrich Entomology Club and helps organize community outreach events to educate community members on insects including elementary school educational classroom visits, serves as a peer reviewer for scientific journals, and teaches lab techniques to students.

Previous scholarship recipients:

2019Sofia Giron, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2018Kirk Amundson, University of California – Davis
2017Adrienne Gorny, Cornell University
2016Justin Clements, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2015Shunping Ding, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2014Washington Luis da Silva, Cornell University
2013Rhett Spear, Washington State University
2012Michael Hardigan, Michigan State University
2011Anders Schmidt Huseth, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2010Yu Chen, University of Wisconsin
2009Jacob M. Blauer. Washington State University
2008Leah McCann, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Maria Del Pilar Marquez-Villavicencio, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jason Cavatorta, Cornell University
2007Magnifique Nzaramba, Texas A&M University
Daniel Justin Gerhardt, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2006Per Hilding McCord, North Carolina State University
Sarah Ann Rosenthal, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2005Lavanya Reddivari, Texas A&M University
Thomas Reed Bowen, University of Idaho
2004Ioana Dinu, University of Minnesota
Donna Henderson, University of Idaho
2003Ryon Ottoman, Oregon State University
Jeff Pack, University of Florida
2002Ryan Hayes, University of Minnesota
Mark Pavek, Washington State University
2001Anna Hale, Texas A&M University
Megan Carrazana, University of California-Davis
2000Jane Choi, Washington
Andy Hornbacher, Idaho
1999Christine Armer, Oregon
Chris Gunter, Wisconsin
1998Joseph Kuhl, Wisconsin
Silvia Fernandez, Maine