The Musser International Turfgrass Foundation has selected Cameron M. Stephens as the 2021 Award of Excellence recipient.
The award is given to outstanding Ph.D. candidates who, in the final phase of their graduate studies, demonstrated overall excellence throughout their doctoral program in turfgrass research.
Stephens received his B.S. in agriculture with a focus on turfgrass science from Ohio State before earning his M.S. in agronomy from Penn State, where he focused on turfgrass pathology and fungicide resistance. Stephens then earned a Ph.D. in plant pathology at NC State, where he pursued a dissertation entitled, “Etiology, Epidemiology, and Management of Take-all Root Rot on Golf Course Putting Greens.” The research completed throughout his academic tenure aims to improve our understanding of detrimental turfgrass pathogens and optimize disease management solutions.
“Earning this prestigious award has been a professional goal of mine since studying turfgrass science as an undergrad at Ohio State,” Stephens said. “It is an absolute honor to receive this accolade and to be considered among such elite company. I am extremely grateful to all of the people who have helped shape who I am as a turfgrass scientist and plant pathologist and hope to faithfully carry on the legacy of Professor Musser.”
Stephens is scheduled to defend his dissertation in March and has already accepted a position as the technical market manager for Turf & Ornamentals for BASF in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He plans on continuing to stay connected to research, academia and outreach in his new role while continuing to serve the turfgrass community.
“The primary pillar of my academic journey has always been to solve challenging disease problems that turfgrass managers encounter by improving our knowledge of turfgrass pathogens and providing practical management solutions,” Stephens said. “It’s always been about helping the end users and I will strive to fulfill that mission throughout my career.”
The criteria for selecting award recipients include graduate work, academic record, dissertation, publications, leadership and extracurricular activities. To date, awards have been granted to doctoral students from universities including; Arizona, Auburn, Cornell, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Michigan State, Rutgers, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
“The qualifications for applicants are very high for the doctoral candidates that apply for the Foundation’s Award of Excellence, so all of the applicants are of the highest caliber,” Musser International Turfgrass Foundation President Frank Dobie said. “We strive to select the one candidate that we feel is the best of the best.”