The Early Career Award recognizes current members of the SIVB who are outstanding early-career scientists and who have made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology and/or in the development of novel technologies that have advanced in vitro biology. The Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. Jessica Rupp and Dr. Daysha Ferrer-Torres with the Early Career Award at SIVB 2021: In Vitro Online, the 2021 virtual annual meeting of the Society for In Vitro Biology. Dr. Rupp’s Early Career Award is highlighted in this issue of the In Vitro Report and Dr. Ferrer-Torres’ Early Career Award will be highlighted in the next issue of the In Vitro Report.

Dr. Jessica Rupp

2021 SIVB Early Career Award Recipient

Dr. Jessica Rupp

Dr. Jessica Rupp Awarded the 2021 SIVB Early Career Award

Dr. Jessica Rupp is the 2021 recipient of the SIVB Early Career Award. Dr. Rupp is a high energy, influential tissue culture scientist, who has already had a positive impact on the Society for In Vitro Biology and crop production practices in the Midwest US and beyond. She is currently flourishing as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University. After receiving her PhD in Harold Trick’s laboratory, she jumped directly into an Assistant Professor faculty position at Montana State University. When her “dream job” opened up a few years later at Kansas State University, she applied for, was offered and accepted the Assistant Professor position at K-State.

Since graduate school, Dr. Rupp has focused her research on pathogen identification and control in wheat, sugar beet, lentil and potato using conventional and molecular techniques. Although she is most recognized for using RNAi approaches for studying and controlling wheat viruses, she is also working on genome editing of plants for increased resistance to pathogens. Her work on wheat virus resistance is the most notable as she demonstrated the application of basic research using RNAi approaches for control of Wheat Streak Mosaic and Triticum Mosaic viruses. This work resulted in publications and in the awarding of patents. These patents and papers indicate that this basic research has strong biotechnological applications to the field. In her young career, Dr. Rupp has focused much of her efforts on outreach and extension so her role in the University so far has been to apply basic research to the field. Her extension efforts have resulted in the publication of numerous field guides on insect, fungal and viral pathogen management in potato, sugar beet, lentil and wheat. Dr. Rupp’s current lab has two PhD candidates that are expected to graduate this spring and has just added a MS student.


Dr. Rupp accepting her 2021 SIVB Early Career Award

Along with a long-time research assistant professor and a senior scientist, as well as undergraduates, her lab is actively doing both basic and applied research in fungal, bacterial, and viral pathogens of wheat. Her research efforts are supported through grants from the USDA US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, Kansas Wheat Commission, and North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. Her research efforts resulting in refereed publications have also been strong. Of note is her 2019 paper titled, “Wheat virus identification in infected tissue using nanopore sequencing technology” in the journal Plant Disease which was a “top 10 most downloaded paper” in this journal. Interestingly, her second refereed publication titled, “Stable resistance to Wheat streak mosaic virus in wheat mediated by RNAi” came out in 2014 in the society’s journal, In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology – Plant.

Although Dr. Rupp is a relatively new faculty member, she has been attending meetings regularly and, prior to Covid disruptions, has brought her graduate students to the annual SIVB meetings. Her graduate students have, in turn, become involved in the society serving in various capacities on student committees. Her students have also won numerous scholarships, awards, and honors. Dr. Rupp has been involved in SIVB as the secretary for the Plant Biotechnology section and has become a go-to person for views on expanding our outreach efforts via social media. As a society that is striving to stay current with technologies, her approaches and thoughts for staying current and relevant are very welcome. She also serves on the editorial board of In Vitro Cellular and Developmental – Plant. Dr. Rupp is the future of our society, and we are happy to have her represent us as the 2021 recipient of the Early Career Award.

Submitted by:
John Finer

Professor Emeritus
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
The Ohio State University, USA

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