Two students were awarded $5,000 scholarships from the 2018 Altman Family Scholarship Fund.
Krishna Bhattarai, a Ph.D student at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, and Nathan Nordstedt, of The Ohio State University were both awarded the 2018 scholarship for their exemplary work and outstanding dedication to their floriculture studies.
The Altman Family Scholarship was created in 2015 by Ken and Deena Altman (owners of Altman Plants) and assists in funding the education of floriculture graduate students (MS or Ph.D.), who will become leading floricultural scientists and educators.
“I’m inspired when I review these applications,” said Ken Altman. “Every single student was extremely deserving of a scholarship”.
Krishna Bhattarai is a doctoral student at the University of Florida with a career goal of becoming an ornamental breeder. He currently works as a graduate research assistant at the Gulf Coast Research and Educational Center (GCREC), screening for disease resistance, identification of novel traits and marker selection on petunia, lisianthus, snapdragon and gerbera.
His research focuses on developing powdery mildew (PM) resistance in gerbera daisy and identifying the genes involved in the resistance using next generation sequencing. As an ornamental breeder, Krishna hopes to develop landscape and ornamental plants that are changing-ecology friendly and perform well in minimal resource conditions.
“Because of the support from The Altman Family and AFE, I can continue my pursuit to serve the humankind through the world of flowers and plants,” said Bhattarai.
Krishna has received many awards and honors, most recently being named the 2017-2018 Trellis Fund Fellow from the University of California-Davis, a first-place award at the 2017 American Society for Horticulture Sciences for graduate student poster competition (PhD category), and the AFE 2017 Bud Ohlman Scholarship award.
He is also a member of the Recruitment Task Force of the AFE Young Professionals Council, a group for under 35 students and young professionals that offers leadership and volunteer opportunities and collaboration within the floral/horticultural industries.
Nathan Nordstedt is a doctoral student at The Ohio State University and received his Bachelor of Science at Kansas State University in 2016.
Nathan’s research focuses on the identification and characterization of beneficial bacteria with the ability to alleviate drought stress in floriculture crops. This research will help directly impact the formulation of biological products specific to floriculture crop production systems, and therefore help growers to alleviate abiotic stress that can reduce the quality of crops during production, harvest, and transportation.
After graduation, Nathan would like to pursue a career in research at a land-grant university focusing on floriculture crop improvement.
“I have a strong background in horticulture, and I’m excited for the many opportunities to contribute in the future. By winning this scholarship, the funding will be directly invested back into the industry by allowing a promising young professional to continue developing a strong future career in horticulture” says Nordstedt.
A member of the AFE Young Professionals Council Social Media Task Force, Nathan co-produced one of the finalist videos for the #FlowerLoveVideoContest, titled “Let Happiness Bloom”. He was named 2016 recipient of the DC Kiplinger Awards of Distinction, received the OARDC Director’s Graduate Associateship, and has received numerous AFE and other industry scholarships.
“Nathan is an excellent graduate student, researcher, and leader. His true passion for the floriculture industry and his dedication to serving the industry through his research and service activities makes him an excellent candidate this scholarship, says Dr. Michelle Jones, Professor and DC Kiplinger Floriculture Chair.
“The generous scholarship funding provided by AFE and The Altman Family means a lot to my personal development as a graduate student,” said Nordstedt.