This year’s Distinguished Women in Science lecturer, Alison G. Power, is an expert in the ways in which the diversity of hosts, vectors, and pathogens influences the epidemiology of diseases in plant communities. Environmental factors are key in shaping the temporal and spatial distributions of plant viruses in natural grasslands. Field experiments show that host competence, pathogen spillover, and pathogen dilution vary among grass hosts of the barley/cereal yellow dwarf viruses. Competitive interactions between host plants are mediated by disease, while the effects of disease on hosts are strongly influenced by the community context. Power will discuss how these processes have the potential to shape the structure of plant communities.
Alison Power, a professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology and the department of science and technology studies, is a member of the graduate fields of ecology and evolutionary biology, entomology, international agriculture, conservation and sustainable development, and the Latin American studies program. She is also currently serving as dean of the Graduate School. Her research focuses on biodiversity conservation in managed ecosystems, interactions between agricultural and natural ecosystems, agroecology, the ecology and evolution of plant pathogens, invasive species, and tropical ecology.