SDSU Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science welcomes new faculty


Brookings, S.D. — The Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science at South Dakota State University welcomed two new faculty members during the fall 2021 semester. Dr. Gazala Ameen joined the department as an assistant professor, and Dr. Shyam Solanki came on board as a research associate III.

Dr. Gazala Ameen joins the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science as an assistant professor.

Dr. Gazala Ameen

After receiving a bachelor's degree in horticulture at Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University in India in 2010, Ameen pursued both a master’s and Ph.D. in plant pathology at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU, Ameen carried out applied research on fungicide sensitivity of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and cloning and characterizing two resistance genes in barley. Graduating with her Ph.D. in 2019, Ameen continued these projects during her postdoctoral research at Washington State University before coming to SDSU.

Ameen’s responsibilities at SDSU will include building an interdisciplinary research program to address the fundamental questions of host-pathogen interaction and how to devise strategies of management of plant pathogens through her research findings. Her position also offers the opportunity to teach a core course on Introductory plant pathology for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Ameen looks forward to building her research program and working with students at SDSU.

“My mentoring and teaching philosophies have the core value to hopefully transfer the thrill of research and passion of plant pathology to the next generation of young students at a land grant university like SDSU,” Ameen said.

Dr. Shyam Solanki serves as a research associate III for the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science at South Dakota State University.

Dr. Shyam Solanki

Like Ameen, Solanki also received his bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University. He then went on to obtain his master’s degree in biotechnology from South Asian University, India, in 2013 and his Ph.D. in plant pathology from NDSU in 2018. Through his Ph.D. and postdoctoral research, Solanki focused on three pathosystems: barley-wheat stem rust, barley-Fusarium head blight, and soybean-Sclerotinia stem rot.

At SDSU, Solanki’s research focuses on plant-microbe interactions and soybean and cereal crop diseases, including the investigation of Diaporthe, a fungal pathogen of soybean causing the stem canker disease, and the deadly fungal pathogen, stem rust, which impacts cereal crops.

“Through my cutting-edge research work at SDSU, I am hoping to make an impact on our growers and stakeholders,” Solanki said. “Utilizing my specialization on functional genomics aspects of plant-microbe interaction, I aim to devise innovative plant pathogen control strategies, a crucial aspect of precision agriculture.”