MSU potato researcher honored for lifetime achievements and outstanding publication

David Douches, director of the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Program, was recently awarded Honorary Life Membership to the Potato Association of America, the organization's highest honor.

A man and a woman are standing and talking in a potato field.
David Douches (left) talks with doctoral student Natalie Kaiser during a potato field day at MSU's Montcalm Research Center.

David Douches, director of the Michigan State University (MSU) Potato Breeding and Genetics Program, was awarded Honorary Life Membership to the Potato Association of America (PAA) during the organization's recent annual meeting, held virtually July 26-28, 2021. 

The PAA is a professional society for individuals involved in potato research, outreach, production and utilization efforts. Honorary Life Membership is the organization's is the highest award.

Douches and his research team also received the PAA's Outstanding Paper Award for their paper, Genome-wide association analysis of common scab resistance and expression profiling of tubers in response to thaxtomin A treatment underscore the complexity of common scab resistance in tetraploid potato." Doctoral student Natalie Kaiser is the lead author on the paper, which was published in the breeding and genetics section of the American Journal of Potato Research in 2020.

Douches has led the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Program for over 30 years. His program is recognized globally for innovative potato research, and has produced over 30 new potato varieties. 

He currently also serves as the project director of the Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership. Funded through USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, the project works to bring a late blight resistant potato to Southeast Asia. Late blight, the cause of the Irish potato famine, is the most serious of all potato diseases with an estimated $6.7 billion annually in global yield losses and control costs, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Also a professor in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences, Douches is committed and passionate educator. Students have come from Bangladesh, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Columbia, and Argentina to study under his guidance at MSU.

Douches' commitment to potato breeding and genetics has earned him numerous accolades, including MSU's Corporate Connector of the Year (2019) and Willam J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award (2014). He was named Potato Grower Magazine's Researcher of the Year in 2011. 

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