Karen Snover-Clift1, Barb Riker1, Deric Picton2, Yazmin Rivera2, and Pat Shiel3

The 2022 workshops marked the 20th anniversary of the collaboration that became the NPDN-Beltsville Advanced Diagnostic Workshops and, that until 2021, were held at the Beltsville lab (now called the Plant Pathogen Confirmatory Diagnostic Laboratory – PPCDL). Although we hoped for a return to in-person workshops in 2022, continued travel restrictions at USDA facilities forced the Beltsville leadership and instructors to again convert their training materials to a virtual format. In addition to recognizing all the instructors and trainees who participated in the array of workshop topics, we want to thank all the instructors for their extra efforts in providing these trainings. They could have simply said, “Oh well…we have no choice but to cancel.” Instead, they decided this effort was important enough to add to their workload and made improvements to the 2021 virtual courses. They even expanded their course subjects for 2022 by offering four additional course topics not available for the 2021 workshop series.
The decision to go all virtual occurred on February 2, in response to travel restrictions not being suspended. The timing of this decision was just a few weeks before the first training session was scheduled to begin. Once again, the Beltsville instructors proved that their number one priority is the delivery of quality workshop materials and activities, even when challenged with a quick turn-around. The instructors are commended for their ability to quickly modify their lectures to a virtual format, including four topics new for 2022, without reducing content quality.
Eight subjects were offered virtually and delivered between February 22 and March 29. The subjects were selected based on ease of conversion to a virtual format and the annual survey of most requested topics. Workshops that included a practical, hands-on activity had materials that needed to be shipped to the participants for processing at their home base laboratory. We learned a lot in 2021 but this time we had only a few weeks from the time the decision was made to go virtual. Making these substantial changes over a few months was a huge undertaking and took the efforts of many.

As many of you know, there are numerous benefits to travelling to Building 580 in Laurel, Maryland, for training. When physically present, the participants make connections with the scientists who developed and/or validated the procedures they are learning, they get to try out different pieces of equipment and learn what features are important, they perform hands-on activities in the presence of experts who can guide them as questions arise, there are no distractions, and they get to spend time with other network members.

The primary benefit of virtual sessions is the ability to increase the class size. We were able to triple the allowable number of participants versus our traditional in-person workshops. In-person workshops are capped at eight participants because of the costs associated with travel and the size of the training space. The virtual sessions allowed us to invite up to 25 participants to each workshop. We also plan to use the recordings of the virtual workshops in future Learning Management System (LMS) modules.

As with 2021, the instructors and planning team members learned many lessons while planning the virtual workshops and during some of our six-hour Zoom days. Future workshops will benefit from this experience. Even though we feel these workshops were very successful, we all are hoping to travel to the PPCDL in March 2023.

Congratulations to all NPDN network members and partners who attended and completed the workshops! We provided valuable training content to 120 participants in eight workshops over a six-week period. These network-wide professional development opportunities provide beneficial growth to individuals as well as network-wide preparedness. We cannot thank the PPCDL leadership and instructors enough for their ongoing commitment to providing the NPDN members and partners with quality diagnostic trainings.
At the 6th NPDN national meeting, the PPCDL leadership and instructors were awarded an Outstanding Team Service Award for not only their many years of offering top quality workshops but also for going way, way above and beyond for our members and partners. The award nomination letter concluded with this statement: It is crucial to keep the NPDN membership educated with cutting-edge diagnostic tools and techniques to accurately make identifications and to serve as the front line of sample processing as well as backup support for state and federal laboratories. Their dedication and commitment to the NPDN diagnostician’s professional development needs to be recognized for its extraordinary value to the NPDN and USDA missions, especially for their above and beyond efforts during the pandemic.

2022 NPDN Outstanding Team Service Awardees


Beltsville workshop instructors: Gloria Abad, Peter Abrahamian, Bright Agindotan, John Bienapfl, Stefano Costanzo, Phillip Lake (not pictured), Reny Mathew, Eric Newberry Schyler Nunziata, Gem Santillana, Subodh Srivastava, Jarred Yasuhara-Bell, and Kurt Zeller. Beltsville workshop leadership and planning team members: Deric Picton, Yazmin Riveria, Vessela, Mavrodieva, and Mark Nakhla. Behind the scenes, Patrick Shiel has provided leadership for many years as the ADODR for this project and we cannot thank him enough for his support of the NPDN’s professional development as well.

2022 Beltsville Workshop Instructors and Participants

Moderators for all workshop sessions were Deric Picton (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL), Karen Snover-Clift (Cornell University), and Matthew Stern (Independent Consultant).

February 22-24 Bioinformatics Module-SS Workshop

Instructors: Eric Newberry, Subodh Srivastava, Kurt Zeller, Peter Abrahamian, Gloria Abad, and Reny Mathew (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Karen Rane (University of Maryland), Cheyenne Ritter (Alaska Dept. of Natural Res.), Danielle Martin (West Virginia Forest Health Protection), Sapphitah Dickerson, and Michael Melchert (Washington State Dept. of Ag.); Eleanor Lopez (University of Tennessee), Raissa Debacker Moura (Kansas State University); Krishna Puri and Ashley Turner (Missouri Dept. of Ag.), Tomie Vowell (University of Hawaii), Xiao Yang (Clemson University), Jiahua “Alex” Hu, Sallu Nepal and Dakota Salyer (University of Arizona); Tom Creswell (Purdue University), Sienna Turner (Bartlett Tree Experts); Whitney Dudding (West Virginia University), Noah Adamo (Maryland Dept. of Ag.), and Al Byrd (University of Kentucky)

February 28 – March 2 Bioinformatics Module HTS Workshop

Instructors: Schyler Nunziata, Subodh Srivastava, Gloria Abad, Eric Newberry, and Peter Abrahamian (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Julie Thommen (Pennsylvania Dept. of Ag.), Cheryl Blomquist, Ying Guo, Katie Posis, Tongyan Tian, Lucita (Luci) Kumagai, Sergei A. Subbotin, Joe Viglienzoni, and Sebastian Albu (California Dept. of Food and Ag.); Lina Rodriguez Salamanca (Iowa State University); Raissa Debacker Moura (Kansas State University); Ashley Turner (Missouri Dept. of Ag.); Kameron Kilday (Oregon State University); Jiahuai “Alex” Hu (University of Arizona); Jordie Ocenar (University of Hawaii); Craig Larcenaire (USDA Forest Service), and Cesar Escalante-Guardado and Omprakash MIttapalli (Auburn University)

March 8 – Isothermal Amplification Workshop

Instructors: Gem Santillana, Kurt Zeller, and Jarred Yasuhara-Bell (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Noah Adamo (Maryland Dept. of Ag.); Kameron Kilday (Oregon State University); Olive Stanley (USDA-ARS); Karen Snover-Clift (Cornell University); Ekaterina Nikolaeva (Pennsylvania Dept. of Ag.); Uta McKelvy (Montana State University); Eleanor Lopez (University of Tennessee); Colette Gabriel (Ohio Dept. of Ag.); Melissa Irizarry and Raquel Hill (University of Florida); Krishna Puri (Missouri Dept. of Ag.); Sienna Turner (Bartlett Tree Experts); and Nicholas Goltz (University of Connecticut)

March 9 & 16 – Phytophthora 101 Workshop

Instructors: John Bienapfl and Reny Mathew (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Jennie Mazzone (Pennsylvania State University); Jill Pollok (University of Delaware); Sara Wallace (Oklahoma State University); Eleanor Lopez (University of Tennessee); Michelle Grabowski and Sara Bratsch (Minnesota Dept. of Ag.); Jillian Smothergill (Pennsylvania Dept. of Ag.); Sallu Nepal (University of Arizona); Melissa Irizarry and Raquel Hill (University of Florida); Kyle Broderick (University of Nebraska-Lincoln); Snezana Haymes and Brooke Zale (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL), and Geoffrey Dennis (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T DESS)

March 10 – Citrus Canker Workshop

Instructors: Gem Santillana and Jarred Yasuhara Bell (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Kassie Connor and Cora Baggett (Auburn University); Joe Viglienzoni and Sebastian Albu (California Dept. of Food and Ag.); Melissa Irizarry (University of Florida); Julian Koob and Charles Belanger (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL), and Consuelo Estevez De Jensen (University of Puerto Rico)

March 14-15 – Phytoplasma Molecular Detection Workshop

Instructor: Stefano Costanzo (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Jen Olson (Oklahoma State University); Krishna Puri (Missouri Dept. of Ag.); Sienna Turner (Bartlett Tree Experts); Ashley Turner (Missouri Dept. of Ag.); Alexandra Kong (University of Hawaii); Kameron Kilday (Oregon State University); Xiao Yang (Clemson University); Pedro Uribe (Texas A&M University); Sara Bratsch (Minnesota Dept. of Ag.); Melissa Irizarry (University of Florida); Kyoko Scanlon (Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources); Ben Adducci and Nora Tsai (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL); Diane Plewa (University of Illinois)

March 17 & 24 – Seed Pathogen Testing Workshop

Instructors: Bright Agindotan (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Karen Snover-Clift (Cornell University), Yonghao Li (Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station); Tammy Jones and Rachel Knier (Pennsylvania Dept. of Ag.); Michael Melzer, Alejandro Olmedo-Velarde, and Alexandra Kong (University of Hawaii); Christian Cumagun (University of Idaho); Glenn “Curt” Colburn and Xiao Yang (Clemson University); Stephanie Shea (University of Maine); Julian Koob and Beth Kasiborski (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL); and Jen Olson (Oklahoma State University)

March 29 – Potato Wart Workshop

Instructors: John Bienapfl and Phillip Lake (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)

Participants: Rachel Knier (Pennsylvania Dept. of Ag.); Christian Cumagun (University of Idaho); Suzanne Rooney Latham and Joe Viglienzoni (California Dept. of Food and Ag); Jennifer Falacy and Nathan Chambers (Washington State Dept. of Ag.); Samantha Fieweger and Elly Voigt (Wisconsin Dept. of Ag.); Lina Rodriguez Salamanca (Iowa Dept. of Ag.); Christine Ngoan (North Dakota State University); Ana Cristina Fulladolsa and Matias Reynoso (Colorado State University), and Ben Adducci, Julian Koob, Nora Tsai, and Kurt Zeller (USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T, PPCDL)