Friday, April 12, 2018 – Reynolds Alumni Center

2017 Distinguished Researcher Award: Melissa Mitchum

Melissa Mitchum

Melissa Mitchum joined CAFNR in 2003 as an assistant professor in plant sciences.

She has authored and co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed research and review articles and nine book chapters. Mitchum has given over 40 invited seminars and presentations. She has filed 15 invention disclosures and patents and has garnered more than $15 million in external grant funding. Her findings have been published in Nature.

She received the 2015 Syngenta Award for Outstanding Research Contribution in Plant Pathology, American Phytopathological Society. Mitchum is the monitoring editor of Plant Pathology and associate editor of Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.

She studies nematode-plant interaction from both sides, shedding light on the biology of both. Her seminal discoveries have transcended the field of plant nematology.

“In a very short time, she established her lab as the go-to point for soybean cyst nematode work in the region, nationally and internationally,” said Walter Gassmann, professor of plant sciences. “Soybean cyst nematode is the most detrimental biotic factor that limits soybean production, and both basic researchers as well as plant biotech companies are eager to work with Melissa to understand the biology of the nematode-soybean interaction and limit losses to agriculture.”

“I would also like to point at Dr. Mitchum’s ability to convey new scientific principles and concepts to a broader audience,” said G. Smant, associate professor, Wageningen University, The Netherlands. “For most of my teaching I use review papers written by Dr. Mitchum as essential reading material, as she so eloquently bridges fundamental science and valuable applications in her writings.”


The potential applications of Dr. Mitchum’s fundamental research towards reducing nematode damage in agriculture are significant and represent the best that the land-grant mission has to offer.

Eric L. Davis, Plant Pathology Head and WNR Distinguished Professor
North Carolina State University