Dr. Bob Kemerait is a Professor and Extension Specialist in Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia (UGA), and he is originally from Florida. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Davidson College in North Carolina. He then returned to his home state to pursue his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and Ph.D.in plant pathology at the University of Florida (UF).
His position is housed within the Plant Pathology Department at UGA. Plant Pathology is broadly defined as anything that looks at how to manage diseases, and often nematodes. Some faculty in this department try at an applied level to develop better ways to manage plant diseases. Other faculty evaluate molecular characterization of pathogens and how the pathogens, to include fungi, bacteria, and viruses interact with the plant.
Having an extension appointment, Kemerait has expertise in multiple areas. His primary area is in disease and nematode management related to agronomic crops. Much of this includes talking with growers and making recommendations on how to best manage diseases to protect yield in peanuts and other crops as well.
The project Kemerait is the proudest of is Peanut Rx. Peanut Rx integrates the information known about crop rotation, variety selection, planting date, and other factors and how they together play a role in the risk for disease. Before Kemerait was with UGA, faculty here were working on the UGA Tomato Spotted Wilt Index. When he got here, Kemerait joined the project and helped to take it a step further to include white mold and leaf spot diseases in addition tospotted wilt. The industry has partnered with the development of Peanut rx and subsequent prescription fungicide programs. The result for the growers from Peanut Rx has been the realization that with better management they can do more with less.
Kemerait has also had success working in international agriculture. He has worked with small-scale farmers in Haiti, Guyana, Cambodia, and the Philippines. His goal has been to improved production practices for these farmers so that they can better provide for their families. Through this work Kemerait has helped UGA graduate students gain international experience. The information learned by Kemerait and others while working in international agriculture has brought benefits to the peanut growers here in Georgia as well.
Some of these projects have been funded by the United States Agency for International Development. He has also received grants through the Georgia Peanut Commission and other federal agencies and from industry support of this Extension program
Written by: Caraline Coombs