Cora McGehee

Cora McGehee

Cora McGehee is a master’s degree student studying horticulture in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. She is researching the use of non-chemical options on plant pathogens in hydroponic systems.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I went to Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge.

What was your major?

My major was environmental horticulture and I minored in history.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I was working with a horticultural crop pathologist during my last year at LSU and really enjoyed applied research. I was using biological fungicides to suppress plant pathogens, such as bacterial leaf spot and downy mildew, in the field. Then I found an applied research graduate student position at UConn working with suppressing plant pathogens in hydroponic leafy greens. It was a great fit and I’m glad I made the decision to come to UConn!

Who is your advisor?

My advisor is Dr. Rosa Raudales, greenhouse extension specialist.

What is your field of research?

My field of research is observing how biological control agents will suppress disease incidence and severity of Pythium root rot caused by Pythium aphanidermatum in hydroponic lettuce and microgreens. Pythium root rot is a disease that occurs in warm temperatures and when there is poor drainage and soil remains saturated for a prolonged period. It’s a common problem in greenhouses. I’m also looking at the effect of collected recirculating water on plant growth and observing if the microbial populations in the water assists in the effects of biological control agents on suppressing Pythium species.

Name one aspect of your work that you like.

I really enjoy working in a greenhouse and growing plants. However, I love visiting growers and seeing what issues they are facing in order to better prioritize our research efforts to assist them.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?

I’m proud of my research on suppressing Pythium root rot and the outreach that I’ve been able to do. I gave a hands-on workshop to greenhouse growers at the Connecticut Agricultural Research Station on nutrient deficiency. The opportunity to reach out to growers by teaching and helping them resolve certain issues or problems is very satisfying.

What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

I’ll be graduating with my master’s degree in December 2017 and I am currently applying to extension specialist positions around the country.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I enjoy dancing and yoga and really miss Mardi Gras with my girls!

By Jason M. Sheldon