Graduate Prize for Publishing


We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate these nine Plant Ag Grad Students who have received the Graduate Prize for Publishing Award!


This award is to encourage graduate students to publish their research during the time they are in the graduate program. A prize will be awarded to graduate students who publish from their thesis work during the time they are registered in the applicable program as a graduate student. These were papers published from January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020

The prize is monetary for each peer-reviewed publication that is derived from the student’s thesis work. A student may win the prize multiple times during their graduate program.  The prizes are awarded on an annual basis.

Nicole Langdon (Peter Sikkema)

Nicole Langdon’s MSc research focused on tolpyralate a newly registered Group 27 herbicide from ISK Biosciences for weed control in corn. Nicole’s research has been critical in providing new information on the tolerance of corn to tolpyralate and weed control efficacy under Ontario environmental conditions. Her research showed that tolpyralate applied at the 2X rate can cause corn injury, the injury was not increased when co-applied with glyphosate.  She found that when tolpyralate was applied at 600, 900, 1200, 1500, 1800, 2100 and 2400 hours; there was no impact of time-of-day on weed control efficacy with tolpyralate.  Nicole’s research showed that glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane control in corn is optimized when tolpyralate is applied with a methylated seed oil adjuvant.  Her work indicated that tolpyralate, applied preplant, provides postemergence burndown of glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane with similar residual control to the current industry standards. The current tolpyralate label in Canada recommends that methylated seed oil and urea ammonium nitrate be added to the spray tank. Nicole’s research conclusively determined that weed control efficacy with tolpyralate is optimized when applied with methylated seed oil and there is no need for urea ammonium nitrate.

Nicole was hired by Corteva Agriscience Inc. upon graduation.


  • Langdon, N., Soltani, N., Raedar, A., Hooker, D., Robinson, D., & Sikkema, P. (2020). Time-of-day effect on weed control efficacy with tolpyralate plus atrazine. Weed Technology, 1-6. doi:10.1017/wet.2020.93
  • Nicole M. Langdon,  Nader Soltani , Alan J. Raeder, David C. Hooker, Darren E. Robinson, Peter H. Sikkema 18 August 2020 by  Cambridge University Press (CUP) in Weed Technology Weed Technology pp 1-6; doi:10.1017/wet.2020.88
  • Langdon, Nicole, Nader Soltani, Alan Raeder, David C. Hooker, Darren E. Robinson and Peter H. Sikkema. 2020. Tolpyralate + atrazine applied preemergence provides residual GR Canada fleabane control similar to current industry standards. Agricultural Science. 11:417-424. 
  • Langdon, Nicole, Nader Soltani, Alan Raeder, David C. Hooker, Darren E. Robinson and Peter H. Sikkema. 2020. Influence of adjuvants on the efficacy of tolpyralate plus atrazine for the control of annual grass and broadleaf weeds with and without Roundup WeatherMAX. American Journal of Plant Science. 11:465-495. 
  • Langdon, Nicole, Nader Soltani, Alan Raeder, David C. Hooker, Darren E. Robinson and Peter H. Sikkema. 2020. Influence of adjuvants on the control of glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane and waterhemp in corn with tolpyralate. American Journal of Plant Science. 11;354-371. 

Jessica Quinn (Peter Sikkema)

Jessica Quinn’s MSc research focused on halauxifen-methyl, a new Group 4 herbicide in Canada. Jessica studied the tolerance of corn and soybean to halauxifen-methyl and evaluated halauxifen-methyl for control of glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane and giant ragweed in soybean and wheat. Jessica’s research among the first studies conducted and published on halauxifen-methyl in North America. Jessica found that halauxifen-methyl applied 14 days preplant (DPP), 7 DPP, 1 DPP and 5 days after seeding (DAS) at the 1X and 2X rates caused ≤ 10% visible soybean injury. In contrast, halauxifen-methyl applied postemergence (VE-VC) caused 67-87% visible soybean injury, a 50-53% reduction in height, 65-81% decrease in population, 56-67% lower biomass, and 53-63% decline in yield. She also found that halauxifen-methyl applied 10 DPP, 5 DPP, 1 DPP, 5 DAS and POST (VE-V1) at the 1X and 2X rate caused ≤ 3% visible corn injury and caused no effect on corn height or biomass. Halauxifen-methyl applied at VE-V1 at the 2X rate reduced corn yield 10%. Jessica’s research showed that halauxifen-methyl applied preplant to soybean, controlled glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane 72%; when applied in combination with saflufenacil or metribuzin control was improved to >91%. Halauxifen-methyl did not provide adequate control of glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed. Jessica found that halauxifen-methyl applied postemergence in winter wheat controlled GR Canada fleabane 95%, in contrast, control of glyphosate-resistant giant ragweed was 45%.

Jessica was hired by Corteva Agriscience Inc. upon graduation.


  • Quinn, J., Ashigh, J., Soltani, N., Hooker, D., Robinson, D., & Sikkema, P. (2020). Control of glyphosate-resistant horseweed and giant ragweed in soybean with halauxifen-methyl applied preplant. Weed Technology, 1-6. doi:10.1017/wet.2020.118
  • Quinn, Jessica, Nader Soltani, Jamshid Ashigh, David C. Hooker, Darren E. Robinson and Peter H. Sikkema. 2020. Response of soybean and corn to halauxifen-methyl. Weed Technology. 34:613-618.
  • Quinn, Jessica, Nader Soltani, Jamshid Ashigh, David C. Hooker, Darren E. Robinson and Peter H. Sikkema. 2020. Halauxifen-methyl controls glyphosate-resistant horseweed but not giant ragweed in winter wheat. Weed Technology. 34:607-612.

Jennifer Wilker (Peter Pauls)  

The second paper published from Jennifer Wilker’s PhD thesis research describes the genetic diversity and agronomic characteristics of a collection of Honduran landraces and modern bean varieties in Honduras and Ontario. Jennifer was the principal researcher for this international collaborative effort. She planned the field sites in Ontario, measured plant characteristics during the cropping period, prepared the seed samples from beans grown in Ontario and Honduras for nitrogen fixation analysis, liaised with collaborators in  Honduras, collated and analyzed the genetic and agronomic data, wrote the manuscript, sought advice from the co-authors, and responded to manuscript reviewer’s suggestions. It was incorporated as the 4th chapter in her thesis.         Publication:

  • Jennifer Wilker, Sally Humphries, Juan Carlos Rosas-Sotomayor, Marvin Gómez Cerna, Davoud Torkamaneh, Michelle Edwards, Alireza Navabi and K Peter Pauls (2020) Genetic Diversity, Nitrogen Fixation, and Water Use Efficiency in a Panel of Honduran Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Landraces and Modern Genotypes.  Plants 2020, 9, 1238; doi:10.3390/plants9091238 Published: 19 September 2020

Mohammad Erfatpour (Peter Pauls)

The second paper published from Mohammad’s PhD thesis research describes the association between a gene encoding a MYB transcription factor and seed coat darkening in Pinto beans.  Mohammad was involved at all stages of the work and manuscript writing. He produced the lines segregating for the trait, isolated the DNA, sequenced the amplicons, performed the molecular alignments, developed molecular marker linked to the trait, wrote the manuscript, responded to editing suggestions and modified the manuscript according to reviewer suggestions. The manuscript is incorporated as the third chapter in his thesis.


  • Mohammad Erfatpour, K Peter Pauls (2020) A R2R3‑MYB gene‑based marker for the non‑darkening seed coat trait in pinto and cranberry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) derived from ‘Wit‑rood boontje’ Theoretical and Applied Genetics 133:1977–1994  Published online: 28 February 2020

Michael Gebre (Hugh Earl)

For his PhD research, Michael conducted a detailed analysis of how elite, commercial soybean varieties adapted to Ontario varied for their physiological responses to yield-limiting soil water deficits.  Before carrying out his main study, he developed a controlled environment culture system that provided a realistic below-ground environment, so that he could monitor root growth and root activity (soil water extraction) up to 1-m depths.  These two papers, which appeared in Frontiers in Plant Science, demonstrated how soil type affected the volumetric soil water content profile in 1-m rooting columns, and how water stresses and fertilizer distribution treatments imposed in this system affected soybean root activity, growth, yield and yield components.


  • Effects of Growth Medium and Water Stress on Soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] Growth, Soil Water Extraction and Rooting Profiles by Depth in 1-m Rooting Columns Michael Gebretsadik Gebre* and Hugh James Earl
  • Soil water deficit and fertilizer placement effects on root biomass distribution, soil water extraction, water use, yield, and yield components of soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] grown in 1-m rooting columns. Michael Gebretsadik Gebre* and Hugh James Earl

Sara Stricker (Mary Ruth McDonald)

Sara Stricker is studying the biology and management of Stemphylium leaf blight of onion for her Ph.D.  One of the first things she did was to prepare a literature review for submission to the Public Health Agency of Canada to show that this fungal plant pathogen should be in risk group 1, not 2 and is not a risk to human or animal health.  This change means that the plant pathogen can be studied in a regular lab and the change is a valuable for plant pathologists in Canada and useful for others around the world. This literature review has been published in the Canadian Journal of Microbiology so other researchers will have access to the information.

The second paper resulted from field research conducted by Sara for her Ph.D. program.  She incorporated the results of her original research and results from a former grad student, Selasi Tayviah to prepare a manuscript. The combination covers results from six years and produced a stronger manuscript.

Sara is the first author on these papers, and took the lead role in writing and submitting the manuscripts as well as making the revisions and responding to the reviewers.


  • S. Stricker, Cyril S. Tayviah B. D. Gossen, and M.R. McDonald. 2020. Fungicide efficacy and timing for the management of Stemphylium vesicarium on onion. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology (Online August 28, 2020), DOI: 10.1080/07060661.2020.1804461
  • S. Stricker,B. D. Gossen, and M.R. McDonald. 2020.Secondary metabolites produced by fungi in the genus Stemphylium are not a risk to human and animal health. Canadian Journal of Microbiology (fully accepted and will be available on First Look shortly)

Mohsen Yoosefzadeh-Najafabadi (Milad Eskandari)

As part of his PhD thesis, Mohsen conducted field studies at two locations over two years. He executed the experiments, collected and analyzed the data, and wrote this paper. This paper represents one of the three main parts of his PhD study.


  • Yoosefzadeh-Najafabadi M, Earl HJ, Tulpan D, Sulik J and Eskandari M (2021) Application of Machine Learning Algorithms in Plant Breeding: Predicting Yield From Hyperspectral Reflectance in Soybean. Front. Plant Sci. 11:624273. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2020.624273

Mohsen Hesami (Max Jones)

Mohsen Hesami started his PhD in January 2020 with a focus on developing new biotechnological tools for Cannabis sativa.  Despite the challenges and delays presented by Covid-19, Mohsen has already initiated a number of research projects and published two review papers.  The first provides a comprehensive review of the literature on Cannabis biotechnology, including the status of molecular marker development, the genetic structure of the species, and other aspects relevant for this new crop.  The second paper provides a summary of how machine learning has been applied to plant tissue culture systems and the great potential it has to benefit this field moving forward.  These papers represent the basis for ongoing research that Mohsen is currently conducting as part of his thesis.   


  • Recent advances in cannabis biotechnology Mohsen Hesami a, Marco Pepe a, Milad Alizadeh, Aida Rakei, Austin Baiton, Andrew Maxwell Phineas Jones, a Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation, Department of Plant Agriculture, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada b Department of Botany, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Application of artificial intelligence models and optimization algorithms in plant cell and tissue culture Mohsen Hesami & Andrew Maxwell Phineas Jones Received: 29 June 2020 /Revised: 31 August 2020 /Accepted: 4 September 2020 # Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Katiani Eli (Co-advisors: Art Schaafsma and David Hooker)

Pydiflumetofen is a new fungicide invented by Syngenta and Katiani Eli is working under an NSERC/Syngenta CRD grant to develop this fungicide for Fusarium and mycotoxin management in corn.    The first chapter of her thesis was to study the effectiveness of this new fungicide alone or in combination with other fungicides to manage the accumulation of important mycotoxins in grain, paying attention to application method and timing.  Other work in her thesis will include the effect of this chemistry on different chemotypes of Fusarium in Ontario and the baseline susceptibility of these chemotypes to pydiflumetofen as background to developing a resistance management strategy for this novel family of chemistry. Katiani is the primary contributor to the article getting advice and help from the other authors.


  • Eli, Katiani, Victor Limay-Rios, Arthur Schaafsma and David Hooker. 2021. Effect of pydiflumetofen on gibberella ear rot and Fusarium mycotoxin accumulation in maize grain. World Mycotoxin Journal.  In press.

Congratulations to you all!