The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Carol Wilkinson, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for her work to engage people in agriculture, Virginia’s largest and oldest industry.
Wilkinson, the director of the Southern Piedmont Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Blackstone, Virginia, is an expert in tobacco breeding and genetics, seed transmission of the tobacco mosaic virus, plant genetic resources, disease resistance, and STEM programs.
Wilkinson’s research focuses on quantitatively characterizing the mechanisms and inheritance of disease resistance in tobacco. Tobacco mosaic virus is the most widely distributed virus that affects tobacco crops. TMV infection early in the growing season can reduce crop value by 60 percent.
Research conducted by Wilkinson’s graduate students demonstrated that TMV is seed-transmitted in tobacco. Research is currently being conducted to identify chemical seed surface treatments that will inactivate TMV in the seed coat. Additional research conducted by my graduate students on N gene resistance indicated that restriction of TMV movement is incomplete in hybrid cultivars. Consequently, TMV can spread throughout the infected hybrid plants and carryover of the virus in infected plant debris is provided from one crop to the next.
Wilkinson’s extension program focuses on engaging students, teachers, and the general public in science, agriculture, and mathematics education. She developed, organized, and implemented “Family and Farm Day.” By networking with other agencies to provide a breadth of experiences for participants, “Family and Farm Day” provides an opportunity for the people to learn about the impact of agriculture on their daily lives.
Wilkinson received her doctoral degree in crop science from North Carolina State University, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in agronomy from the University of Maryland.