Bhabesh DuttaDr. Bhabesh Dutta is an Associate Professor and Extension Vegetable Pathologist. He primarily works on biology and management of bacterial diseases in onion. Some of his major research areas include center rot disease complex (Pantoea spp. complex) and sour and slippery skin diseases (Burkholderia spp.).  He is the project director (PD) of the Onion-IQ project and will coordinate all research, extension and education activities. PD Dutta will organize and coordinate stakeholder advisory panel and execute extension trainings, on-farm demonstrations related activities in the project.
Contact information: University of Georgia, 2360 Rainwater Rd., Tifton, GA 31794;


Kate Cassity-DuffeyDr. Kate Cassity-Duffey is Assistant Professor in Horticulture at the University of Georgia and specializes in organic horticulture production. Her program is focused on nutrient cycling, soil health, nitrogen availability, organic fertilizer management, organic weed management, vegetable production, and cover crops.  For the Onion-IQ Project, she will help conduct the organic field trials and laboratory experiments focused on the effect of biofumigation on plant available nitrogen. Contact information:



Intiaz ChwdhuryDr. Intiaz Amin Chowdhury is an Assistant Professor of Cotton and Vegetable Crops Nematology at the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia. His research program is focused on fine-tuning existing plant-parasitic nematode management strategies and developing novel management tools. He is particularly interested in exploring nematode biology, epidemiology, crop loss assessments, and diagnostics to develop holistic nematode management recommendations for agricultural crop producers. For the Onion-IQ project, he will oversee the nematodes aspect of this project in Georgia. His team will identify and quantify nematode populations to determine the effect of solarization and biofumigation on plant-parasitic and beneficial nematodes.
Contact information: University of Georgia, 2360 Rainwater Rd., Tifton, GA 31794;



Greg ColsonDr. Greg Colson is a Professor and Interim Department Head in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Georgia.  Dr. Colson specializes in the design and analysis of economic surveys and experiments with particular focus on understanding perceptions and decisions by agricultural producers when faced with risk and uncertainty. As part of the Onion-IQ project team, he will lead the economic analysis of field trial outcomes, helping translate experimental findings into a cost-benefit analysis that can be used by producers and in Extension and outreach efforts planned for the Onion-IQ project. 
Contact information: University of Georgia, 301 Conner Hall, Athens, Ga 30602.


Timothy CoolongDr. Timothy Coolong is a vegetable Extension specialist and professor of horticulture at The University of Georgia. He works with all commercial vegetable crops with a focus on organic practices for commercial growers in the state. He has over 20 years of experience working with onions and his MS and PhD research focused on Vidalia onion production. For this project he is conducting applied field research on biofumigation and solarization and their suitability for reducing onion center rot in the field as well as outreach efforts.
Contact information: University of Georgia, 1111 Miller Plant Sciences, Athens, GA 30602;


Laurel DunnDr. Laurel L. Dunn is a food safety Extension specialist and an assistant professor in food science and technology at the University of Georgia. Dr. Dunn’s research focuses on pre- and postharvest interventions to improve the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Laurel works extensively with soil amendments and microbial risks associated with their use in crop production, as well as treatments that can be applied during production or postharvest processing to reduce foodborne pathogens. As a member of the Onion-IQ project team, Laurel will examine the impact treatments such as biofumigation and solarization have on foodborne pathogens in production soils, and will work with the Extension team to provide resources and training to growers. Contact Information: University of Georgia, Department of Food Science and Technology, 100 Cedar Street, Athens, GA 30602;



Dr. HabteselassieDr. Mussie Habteselassie is a professor of soil microbiology at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus. His research program focuses on the examination of the impact of agricultural management practices on function and diversity of microorganisms that mediate nutrient and waste transformations. His research interests also include the fate of pathogens in soil and their transmission to freshly eaten produce. In this project, he will be examining the impact of the cultural practices on soil microbial communities.
Contact information: University of GA, Crop and Soil Sciences Department, 1109 Experiment Street, Griffin, GA 30223,


Thomas IsakeitDr. Thomas Isakeit is a Professor and Extension Plant Pathologist with statewide responsibilities in management of field and vegetable crop diseases.  With the Onion-IQ Project, he will oversee activities related to monitoring soilborne pathogens, nematodes and insect pests in the Texas field trials. He will also assist with implementation and assessment of on-farm demonstrations, develop written extension publications and web content related to management of disease, insect, and food safety issues of organically-produced onions, and participate in content development and delivery at grower meetings.
Contact information: Department of Plant Pathology, 2132 TAMU, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.



Govindaraj Dev KumarDr. Govindaraj Dev Kumar is an Assistant Professor at Center for Food Safety, University of Georgia-Griffin campus. His research program focuses on  factors that contribute to the transmission of foodborne pathogens from the environment to the food supply chain. He studies environmental persistence mechanisms such as biofilm formation, filamentation and viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state transition of foodborne pathogens in response to environmental stressors. Dr. Dev Kumar will be studying the potential of foodborne pathogen introduction, survival and potential mitigation of onion cross-transfer in soils after solarization and biofumigation treatments. He will also explore the potential for onion colonization by an onion outbreak associated- Salmonella Newport strain. Contact information: Email: 

Brian KvitkoDr. Brian Kvitko is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at The University of Georgia. Dr. Kvitko is a molecular phytobacteriologist who specializes in the use of genetics to understand both disease and resistance interactions between plants and bacteria. His current interests include studying how bacteria are impacted by the plant immune system and plant chemical defenses, specifically the volatile sulfur compounds produced by onions and other Allium sp. For the Onion-IQ project, he will be directing efforts to use bacterial genetic markers to track the impact of organic disease management practices on soil-borne bacterial pathogen populations.
Contact Information: 3303 Miller Plant Sciences, Athens, GA 30602;





Ted McAvoyDr. Ted McAvoy is an Assistant Professor and Extension Vegetable Specialist at the University of Georgia, Tifton Campus. Ted has statewide responsibilities, including working with Vidalia Onions. Ted will work on the impact of biofumigation and solarization on onion production in an organic farming system for the Onion-IQ project. Ted will also help lead outreach efforts with growers and industry. Contact information: University of Georgia, 2360 Rainwater Rd., Tifton, GA 31793;




Jake MowrerDr. Jake Mowrer is an Extension Associate Professor of Soil Nutrient and Water Resource Management at Texas A&M University.  His program focuses on soil management practices that enhance the use-efficiency of nutrients for various crops and minimize adverse effects on soil, water, and atmosphere resources.  The cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in soils are the primary areas of research and outreach interest.  Dr. Mowrer will be leading the team in Texas in establishing and executing the field trials there, examining the effects of biofumigation and solarization on the breakdown of carbon and release of nitrogen from organic fertilizers. 
Contact information: Office: 348A Heep Center. Email: Phone:979-321-5916



Kephas MphandeDr. Kephas Mphande holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural science with a major in crop science from University of Zambia. He graduated in 2013 and worked for the government of Zambia as an extension agronomist, working with smallholder farmers for five years. He won a Fulbright scholarship in 2018 to study sustainable agriculture and plant pathology at Iowa State University under the direction of Drs. Mark Gleason and Gwyn Beattie. He worked on optimizing meso-tunnel systems for organic production and investigated the etiology and pathogenicity factors of Serratia marcescens affecting cucurbits. After finishing his Ph.D. (Feb 2024) he has now joined Dr. Dutta's program where he will develop and optimize cultural practices to reduce Burkholderia spp. complex in organic onion.

Jason M. SchmidtDr. Jason M. Schmidt is an Associate Professor of Entomology. Dr. Schmidt works primarily on biological control in the cropping systems of Georgia. A technique used in Dr. Schmidt’s lab is molecular gut content analysis of predators and analysis of eDNA to reveal key beneficial species important as ecological service providers to agricultural production systems. One research focus is understanding the functioning of beneficial arthropod communities (i.e. bees and predators/parasitoids) within agricultural systems, and working with growers to adapt their systems to design methods for improving the functioning of biological diversity.   Contact information: University of Georgia, 2360 Rainwater Rd., Tifton, GA 31794; Email:

Anil SomenahallyDr. Anil Somenahally is an Associate Professor of rhizosphere biogeochemistry in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Texas A&M University.  As part of the Onion-IQ project team he will assist activities that will help identify the impact of cultural practices on soil-health, soil-microbiome, and soil-nutrition organic onion systems in Texas.
Contact information: 1710 FM 3053 N Overton, TX 75684;