Annual scholarship awarded to one graduate student advancing potato research
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) is pleased to announce Jeewan Pandey, a third-year graduate student Texas A&M University’s Department of Horticultural Sciences, as the recipient of its 2020-21 Academic Scholarship. The $10,000 scholarship award is provided annually to one graduate student with a strong interest in research that can directly benefit the U.S. potato industry.
“Potato LEAF was created to ensure the long-term health of the U.S. potato industry by investing in its future leaders,” said the organization’s chair Shelley Olsen. “We’re thrilled to support Jeewan’s educational and research goals that will advance our collective knowledge and set us on the path for a better, more productive tomorrow.”
As a Ph.D. candidate and graduate research and teaching assistant, Pandey’s research involves the application of DNA-based markers in potato breeding to speed up the development of new varieties that would require fewer pesticide applications. He is also conducting genetic diversity studies and genome-wide association studies with the final goal of accelerating selection using genomics-enabled approaches.
“I’m so excited and grateful to be a Potato LEAF award recipient! This award will be incredibly beneficial in helping me move forward with my career aspirations of obtaining a Ph.D. degree in plant breeding,” said Pandey. “After this, I want to apply my knowledge and skills to contribute towards the education of new professionals, the generation of scientific knowledge, and contribute towards the advancement of the agricultural industry.”
According to Dr. M. Isabel Vales, Associate Professor of Potato Breeding and Genetics, who is overseeing Pandey’s Ph.D. research project, Pandey is an ideal candidate for the scholarship. In his letter of recommendation, Dr. Vales wrote that Pandey “is an excellent student and researcher. He has excellent communication skills, initiative, and leadership. In my opinion, he is on the right path to becoming an outstanding professional and a leader.”
Pandey is an active leader on campus, recently serving on student-led committee that organized the Texas A&M Plant Breeding Symposium (2019 and 2020). He also serves as Vice-President of the Horticulture Graduate Council at Texas A&M, and Graduate and Professional Student Government Senator. He is a member of the Potato Association of America, the American Society of Horticultural Sciences, and the National Plant Breeders’ Association.
A new 501(c)3 organization launched in January 2020, Potato LEAF works to provide tools, training, and support necessary to develop growers and industry members as leaders. As part of its mission to encourage and train future leaders in the industry, the organization oversees the annual graduate-level research scholarship, which was previously administered by the National Potato Council. To learn more, visit pleaf.org/2020-scholarship-winner.