Leslie Beck

Dr. Leslie Beck is the Director of the Plant Diagnostic Clinic and Extension Weed Specialist for New Mexico State University. She received her B.S. in Horticulture and Landscape Management in 2006 and her M.S. in Agriculture in 2009 from Tarleton State University specializing in golf course and turfgrass management. She then received her Ph.D. in Plant and Soil Science, specializing in turfgrass management, from Texas Tech University in 2009. From July 2013 to February 2015, she served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, specializing in turfgrass weed science, at Purdue University.

Dr. Beck's primary responsibilities include progressive statewide educational programming in weed science, including annual and perennial weed management, weed identification, and herbicide application for all cropping systems including agricultural commodities and turf and landscape areas.

Her responsibilities also include interpreting and disseminating current and relevant research findings for practical use by producers through mass media, publications, producer meetings, demonstration plots, and other proven extension methods.

Her long-term extension and research goal is to help individuals and professionals across multiple plant science disciplines and backgrounds to develop accurate, applicable, and effective weed identification and management strategies to address issues throughout the state of New Mexico.

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Phillip Lujan

Phillip Lujan is the program manager and diagnostician for the Plant Diagnostic Clinic. He received his B.S and M.S in Agricultural Biology with a minor in Molecular Biology at New Mexico State University.

For four years, he was a research technician in the plant pathology and mycology program at NMSU where he gained valuable experience working with local growers helping them to manage their disease problems.

Phillip is currently pursuing his PhD in Plant and Environmental Science at NMSU where he is researching the potential use of pecan byproducts on chile peppers for improved soilborne disease management.

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Director Emeritus and Founder: Natalie Goldberg

Dr. Natalie Goldberg is a Distinguished Emeritus Achievement Professor and the former Interim Associate Dean and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at NMSU. She received her B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture from Cal Poly Pomona in 1983 and her M.S and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Arizona in 1987 and 1990. Dr. Goldberg's previous responsibilities included statewide educational programming in areas related to plant health management and crop biosecurity, and operating the Plant Diagnostic Clinic.

Dr Goldberg also previously identified new plant diseases in New Mexico, conducted applied research projects, wrote educational publications, and provided information of disease outbreaks in New Mexico to the public and to regional and national pest information databases. Her research interests focused on the biology and genetics of Xylella fastidiosa, diseases caused by Phytophthora nicotianae, and the interaction of microbes with each other and with plants and their effects on the management of plant diseases.

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Associated Personnel

Carol Sutherland (Retired)

Dr. Carol Sutherland has been at New Mexico State University since 1980 in various capacities.

She is an entomologist by training and earned her Ph.D. in the subject from Oregon State University. While on the faculty at the University of Florida, she worked on Integrated Pest Management and biological control of various insect pests of vegetables, focusing on leafminer flies. In her long association with NMSU, she has worked on range caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants, and a great variety of insects and their relatives as submitted for identification by the public, farmers and ranchers, homeowners, businesses, colleagues, other agencies and organizations.

She spends much of her time making identifications, summarizing biological and control information for these specimens, supporting county agents and participating in numerous entomology outreach programs for youth (4-H and FFA) and adults. She also spends considerable time working with Master Gardeners and the Pesticide Applicator Training and Certification programs.

She is half-time as an Extension Entomologist with the Extension Plant Sciences Department at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and half-time as State Entomologist with the Bureau of Entomology and Nursery Industries, New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

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Sara Fuentes-Soriano

Dr. Sara Fuentes-Soriano is the Director and Curator of the two herbaria (plant museums) at NMSU. She received her B.S. Biology in 1995 and a M.S. in Electron Microscopy in 1997 from Universidad Autónoma de Mexico. She then obtained a M.S. in Plant Systematics in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Plant Systematics, Evolution and Conservation in 2010 from the University of Missouri at Saint Louis. Subsequently, from 2012 to 2016, she served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working on the comparative phylogenomic of several crop species and their wild relatives (e.g., sweet potato, cacao, loblolly pine) at Indiana University and Prairie View, Texas A&M.

Dr. Fuentes-Soriano primary responsibility is to guarantee the future safety and accessibility of the 120,000 plant herbarium specimens. This unique biodiversity collection is the oldest in the State, started by Prof. E.O. Wooton in the late 1880s. Dr. Fuentes-Soriano conducts systematics and taxonomic research, manages, promotes and improves the herbarium, teaches plant science, carries out outreach activities throughout the year, and offers plant identification services to the public.

Some major areas of her research focus on preserving natural history collections, improving biodiversity informatics and cyberinfrastructure, and conducting studies related to plant conservation, systematics and taxonomy. Current research projects address regional and global concerns, such as the effects of climate changes on patterns of the geographic distribution in desert vegetation, synthesis of baseline plant biodiversity data gathered from arid regions, and bioprospecting potential medicinal plant species used traditionally to treat diseases and maintain health in various communities in Southern New Mexico

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Jacki Beacham

Jacki Beacham has been an agricultural research scientist in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science for the past 17 years, working primarily with plant parasitic nematodes associated with agricultural cropping systems in the region. The average day for Beacham may include establishing, monitoring or harvesting a field or greenhouse experiment, spending time in the greenhouse maintaining cultures, or identifying, quantifying and photo-documenting nematode samples at the microscope. She also interacts with growers, crop consultants and homeowners to identify and address their nematode issues. The nematology program that she manages often collaborates with other research programs on campus and has been involved in soil nematode inventories of local natural ecosystems occurring at White Sands National Monument, the Jornada Experimental Range and the Otero Mesa. Beacham earned bachelor's degrees in biology and agronomy and a master's degree in agricultural biology from NMSU.

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Marisa Thompson

As the NMSU Extension Urban Horticulture Specialist, Marisa Thompson is responsible for active extension and research programs supporting sustainable horticulture in New Mexico. In addition to studying landscape mulches and tomatoes, her research interests at NMSU’s Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas include abiotic plant stressors like wind, cold, heat, drought, and soil compaction.

She writes a weekly gardening column, “Southwest Yard & Garden,” which is published in newspapers and magazines across the state and on her blog. Readers can access the column archives and many other horticulture-related resources at Desert Blooms. Find her on social media (@NMdesertblooms).

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