We are actively involved in collaborative and independent research in the following areas:


  • Evaluating innovative chemical, biological, varietal, and cultural management methods for foliar diseases, including remote sensing technologies, and communicating these findings to the industry
  • Investigating the impacts of climate change on insect-disease systems
  • Exploring of sustainable fertility practices for potato early die management
  • Identifying and characterizing new pathogens causing disease in Michigan seed storage
  • Investigating and implementing diagnostic and detection methods for Michigan seed potato certification


Sugar Beet

  • Evaluating chemical and biological management methods for foliar and soilborne diseases
  • Studying the epidemiology of Cercospora leaf spot to help develop and improve integrated management practices
  • Characterizing fungicide sensitivity in isolates of Cercospora beticola, Alternaria spp., and Rhizoctonia solani to better inform management decisions

Characterizing storage rot pathogens for improved post-harvest disease management

For more details see our Research Program Page


Research Publications

McCaghey, M., Willbur, J., Smith, D.L., and Kabbage, M. 2018. The complexity of the Sclerotinia sclerotiorum pathosystem in soybean: virulence factors, resistance mechanisms, and their exploitation to control Sclerotinia stem rot. Trop. Plant Pathol. XX:XX-XX. Accepted for publication.

Willbur, J.F., McCaghey, M.M., Kabbage, M., and Smith, D.L. 2018. An overview of the Sclerotinia sclerotiorum pathosystem in soybean: impact, fungal biology, and current management strategies. Trop. Plant Pathol. XX-XX-XX. Accepted for publication.

Willbur, J.F., Fall, M.L., Byrne, A.M., Chapman, S.A., McCaghey, M., Mueller, B.D., Schmidt, R., Chilvers, M.I., Mueller, D.S., Kabbage, M., Giesler, L.J., Conley, S.P., and Smith, D.L. 2018. Validating Sclerotinia sclerotiorum apothecial models to predict Sclerotinia stem rot in soybean (Glycine max) fields. Plant Dis. XX:XX-XX. Accepted for publication.

Fall, M.L., Willbur, J.F., Smith, D.L., Byrne, A.M., Chilvers, M.I. 2018. Spatiotemporal distribution pattern of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum apothecia is modulated by canopy closure and soil temperature in an irrigated soybean field. Plant Dis. 102(9):1794-1802.

Marburger, D.A. and Willbur, J.F., Weber, M.E., Ané, J.M., Kabbage, M., Conley, S.P., and Smith, D.L. 2018. Characterizing the Effect of Foliar Lipo-chitooligosaccharide Application on Sudden Death Syndrome and Sclerotinia Stem Rot in Soybean. Plant Health Prog. 19(1):46-53. doi:10.1094/PHP-10-17-0058-RS.

Fall. M.L., Boyse, J.F., Wang, D., Willbur, J.F., Smith, D.L., Chilvers, M.I. 2018. Case Study of an Epidemiological Approach Dissecting Historical Soybean Sclerotinia Stem Rot Observations and Identifying Environmental Predictors of Epidemics and Yield Loss. Phytopath. 108(4):469-478. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO-12-16-0446-R.

McCaghey, M. and Willbur, J., Ranjan, A., Grau, C., Chapman, S., Diers, B., Groves, C., Kabbage, M., and Smith, D. 2017. Development and Evaluation of Glycine max Germplasm Lines with Quantitative Resistance to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Front Plant Sci. 8:1495.

Willbur, J.F., Fall, M.L., Bloomingdale, C., Byrne, A.M., Chapman, S.A., Isard, S.A., Magarey, R.D., McCaghey, M., Mueller, B.D., Russo, J.M., Schlegel, J., Chilvers, M.I., Mueller, D.S., Kabbage, M., and Smith, D.L. 2017. Weather-based models for assessing the risk of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum apothecial presence in soybean (Glycine max) fields. Plant Dis. 102: 73-84.

Willbur, J.F., Ding, S., Marks, M.E., Lucas, H., Grau, C.R., Groves, C.L., Kabbage, M., and Smith, D.L. 2017. Comprehensive Sclerotinia stem rot screening of soybean germplasm requires multiple isolates of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. Plant Dis. 101(2):344-353.

Willbur, J.F., Vail, J.D., Mitchell, L.N., Jakeman, D.L., and Timmons, S.C. 2016. Expression, purification, and characterization of a carbohydrate-active enzyme: a research-inspired methods optimization experiment for the biochemistry laboratory. Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 44(1): 75-85.

Samac, D.A. and Willbur, J., Behnken, L., Brietenbach, F., Blonde, G., Halfman, B., Jensen, B., Sheaffer, C. 2014. First report of Stemphylium globuliferum causing Stemphylium Leaf Spot on alfalfa (Medicago sativa) in the U.S. Plant Dis. 98(7):993.

Samac, D. A., Halfman, B., Jensen, B., Brietenbach, F., Behnken, L., Willbur, J., Undersander, D., Blonde, G., and Lamb, JF.S. 2013. Evaluating Headline fungicide on alfalfa production and sensitivity of pathogens to pyraclostrobin. Online. Plant Health Prog.


Click here for more Research Publications

See a list of Jaime’s publications on ResearchGate