Jacquie van der Waals began research on potatoes in 1998 and earned her PhD at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, on the epidemiology of early blight on potatoes. She is an associate professor in the Plant Pathology section of the Department of Plant Science at the University of Pretoria. The main emphasis of her program is those potato pathogens that are most difficult to control, namely, soil- and seedborne pathogens: specifically,
Dickeya (soft rot–blackleg disease complex);
Spongospora subterranea f. sp.
subterranea (powdery scab);
Rhizoctonia solani (black scurf); and
Streptomyces species (common scab). These diseases are rapidly becoming the biggest threats to sustainable potato production globally due to intensification of production and the dwindling amount of virgin soils available. Dr. van der Waals’s research focusses on understanding the complex interactions of these potato pathogens with one another and their host, with the ultimate goal of integrated management of all diseases affecting potatoes.