CSU Grad Student Wins Award at Annual Weed Science Society of America Conference

Todd Gaines, a 2009 doctorate candidate at Colorado State University, won the Outstanding Graduate Student Award on Feb. 10 at the 49th annual Weed Science Society of America meeting in Orlando, Fla.

"Our annual Weed Science Society of America awards program honors individuals from around the globe who are all-stars in their profession," said Jeffrey Derr of Virginia Tech University, society president. "They conduct breakthrough research, promote weed science education, or devote their time and energy to the profession in other significant ways."

Gaines, 26, studied the mechanism of glyphosate resistance in Palmer amaranth, under the advisement of Philip Westra, a professor in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. The Palmer amaranth, among other plants, is resistant to glyphosate, which is an herbicide. Gaines worked to understand the molecular basis for the resistance mechanism.

Gaines says his work has begun a new understanding of herbicide resistance. "I’ve been able to discover new mechanisms than we have ever seen before. It opens questions into plant genetics and sciences and the evolution of plants to extreme selection pressure," Gaines said.

"Basically people are interested because there hasn’t been this kind of molecular work in weed science so far," Gaines said of his award. "My work opens doors for molecular weed science."

Gaines received his bachelor’s degree in Soil and Crop Science in 2004 and his master’s degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics in 2006, both at CSU.  Gaines also served as a student liaison on the board of directors for the Western Society of Weed Science.

Next, Gaines will move to Australia to begin a post-doctoral research position at the University of Western Australia.