Chuanxue Hong, professor of plant pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been named the Julian Haden Gary and Margaret Savage Gary Professor in Horticulture by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The Julian Haden Gary and Margaret Savage Gary Professorship in Horticulture was established with a gift from Margaret Savage Gary. An avid gardener, Gary wanted her gift to support an area of lifelong interest she shared with her husband and to honor her nephew Stuart Johnson, who is an alumnus of Virginia Tech. Recipients hold the professorship for a period of five years.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1999, Hong is based at Virginia Tech’s Hampton Road Agricultural and Research Station in Virginia Beach. His research focuses on disease management in nursery production.

The nursery and greenhouse industry is the largest plant industry in Virginia. Disease management is an important concern in horticultural crop production, including container and field nursery production. Hong has researched the Phytophthora and Pythium species infecting nursery crops, especially addressing the identification and management of these pathogens in recycled irrigation water. He also has studied rose cultivar resistance to black spot and powdery mildew, major diseases for both rose growers as well as those maintaining rose plantings in landscape beds.

In addition, Hong has developed a research program to tackle the problem of boxwood blight, which was first discovered in the United States in 2011 and has quickly spread to a majority of states. Hong received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and spearheaded a collaboration of national and international plant pathologists to study the biology and management of this emerging disease. In 2020, he assembled a team of 14 university professors and government scientists to develop a four-year project to improve boxwood blight mitigation and was funded at almost $4 million. Research findings from this team is disseminated in partnership with AmericanHort, the national organization representing the nursery industry, The National Plant Diagnostic Network, National Plant Board, and many other national and local institutions.

Hong received his bachelor’s degree from Anhui Agricultural University (China) and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from China Agricultural University.

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