Not one, but two promising students have been awarded a 2014 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship through AFE. The merit-based scholarship honors the late floriculture pioneer and is awarded to M.S. or Ph.D. students who are on track to become exceptional researchers or educators.
Joshua Craver, who will soon earn a graduate degree at Kansas State University and begin a doctoral program at Purdue University, and Emma Lookabaugh, a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, were both awarded the $10,000 scholarship.
“Generally only one Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship is awarded each year, but this year AFE made an exception to award a scholarship to two remarkable candidates,” said Dwight Larimer, AFE Education Committee chairman and DESIGN MASTER color tool, inc. president. “These students show great promise and will be strong assets to the industry. We couldn’t pass them up.”
Craver will soon begin pursuing a Ph.D. in horticulture at Purdue University under Roberto G. Lopez, Ph.D. His doctoral research will explore the potential applications for using LED lighting in horticulture.
“Early on in my college education, I uncovered my passion for teaching and research within academia. I have since been chasing this dream, and AFE has been a valuable resource in supporting my efforts,” Craver said. “This scholarship motivates me more than ever to strive for excellence in my schooling and research, in the aims of ultimately giving back more to this industry I have become passionate about.”
Craver, who said he is deeply honored and grateful to receive the scholarship, is currently working with KSU Professor Kimberly Williams, Ph.D., as a teaching assistant. This work has further solidified his desire to teach.
“Josh’s enthusiasm for teaching and research with crops produced in greenhouses is sure to have an impact on our industry as his career progresses,” Williams said. “His teaching efforts will contribute to the education of the next generation of growers, and his research will provide solutions to help these growers address production challenges.”
Ecke recipient Emma Lookabaugh, a doctoral student at NCSU, has extensive experience in floriculture extension work and outreach activities, including more than five years experience at a diagnostic clinic. Her doctoral research focuses on Pythium and aims to combine sound floriculture research with disease management strategies.
“Not only will this scholarship help me financially, but it will also help me professionally,” Lookabaugh said. “I believe in sharing knowledge and taking information from the laboratory to the field, or in this case, to the greenhouse! Ultimately, this scholarship will broaden my audience beyond the realm of plant pathology and give me the opportunity to share my disease research with the floriculture industry as a whole.”
Her ultimate goal is to work as an extension professor specializing in floriculture diseases while continuing research in applied plant pathology that immediately impacts the floriculture industry.
“Emma is an outstanding student, but she also is an exceptional leader who helps growers and the public understand plant disease problems through her extension and outreach activities,” said Barbara Shew, Ph.D., NCSU research assistant professor/extension specialist and Lookabaugh’s advisor. “Emma’s research promises to give growers new insights into managing Pythium root rot in poinsettia and other floricultural crops.”
This prestigious scholarship, established in 2010, is funded by contributions to AFE from the floral industry, the Ecke family and other sources. Awardees will receive $5,000 for two consecutive years, provided they continue meeting scholarship requirements.
AFE annually awards more than 20 additional scholarships to undergraduate through graduate level students.