Barbara Valent

Barbara Valent is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University. She earned a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Colorado, studying phytoalexin elicitors in the Phytophthora sojae – soybean pathosystem. As a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University, she proposed and began developing the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae, as a molecular genetic model for fungal plant pathogens. She was employed at the DuPont Company from 1985 to 2001, where she pursued basic development of the rice blast system and development of disease control strategies. Her laboratory was the first to clone and characterize both a fungal avirulence gene and corresponding rice resistance gene from this pathosystem. Currently, her laboratory is applying live-cell microscopy and functional genomics to understand the biotrophic invasion strategy used by the rice blast fungus. Dr. Valent has also become a leader in research on wheat blast, an important disease in South America since 1985. Movement of wheat blast to Bangladesh this year underscores the critical importance of developing management strategies for this emerging disease. Valent became a Fellow of both the American Phytopathological Society and of the AAAS in 2007.