Early Career Scientist Spotlight | Stuart Michel

Stuart Michel joined the CucCAP Team in 2021. He will work in the Schultheis Lab with the Integrated Disease Management Team. He co-authored the 2021 Triploid Standard and Mini Watermelon Cultigen Evaluation Studies with Jonathan Schultheis and Keith Stark.

researchers in melon field

Stuart Michel collecting data in a melon field.

What is the focus of your work?

Integrated crop and disease management

What is your hometown?

Jamestown, North Carolina

What is your favorite crop?


What is the name of your institution and academic department?

North Carolina State University, Department of Horticultural Science

What is your position? What type of degree program are you enrolled in?

Research Technician & Graduate Student – Masters candidate

Who is your major professor and who are members of your committee?

Dr. Jonathan R. Schultheis is my major professor. Dr. Anthony Keinath, Dr. Lina Quesada Ocampo, and Dr. Daniel Tregeagle are the other members of my committee.

Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.

I’m Stu Michel. I graduated from North Carolina State University in December of 2020 with a B.S. Agricultural Business Management with a Biological Sciences Concentration. I am currently working as a Research Technician in Dr. Schultheis’ program in the Horticulture Department and I am pursuing a graduate degree in Horticultural Science. My current research focus is Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum) of watermelon.

Why did you choose to work with cucurbits, plant pathology,  horticulture, and crop production?

I became interested in working with Cucurbits and plant pathology after my experience working with Dr. Schulthies’ team as a field technician in 2021. I really enjoyed our watermelon variety trials but what really intrigued me was the fusarium wilt of watermelon study. The more I learned about the disease and in particular the effect it can have on growers, the more I knew I wanted to study it and make a difference.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time working on the CucCAP grant, and what do you most look forward to in this position?

I hope to provide useful results that growers can use to have greater success growing cucurbits. In a more general sense, I want to improve my knowledge of cucurbits and cucurbit diseases so I can be a source of knowledge for growers and colleagues. I am looking forward to presenting and publishing the results of the study and learning more about the disease.

Please provide a brief description of your research.

I am studying the impact of Fusarium oxysporum f sp niveum on different watermelon varieties to determine levels of resistance. I am evaluating existing cultivars as well as new lines from various companies and will be rating the effects of the disease throughout the growing season. There will also be a fungicide component to the study, with the aim a finding a combination of resistant varieties and a fungicide program that will allow growers affected by the disease to maximize their yields.