Professor, Michael Bidochka
is being honoured for his distinguished research at Fall Convocation, taking place on Saturday, Oct. 19th
. He will be presented with the Brock University Award for Distinguished Research and Creative Activity
which recognizes faculty members who demonstrate outstanding research achievements, contributions toward the training of future researchers, and consistency in scholarly or creative performance.
Professor Michael Bidochka
is a model researcher who maintains high standards in all of his endeavours. In the words of his colleagues who nominated him for this award, “he is not one to seek accolades and has been satisfied with the rewards of gaining new knowledge and in training outstanding young scientists in his lab.”
Professor Bidochka’s research program is focused on the study of fungi that not only kill insects but are also plant symbionts. This type of fungus typically infects insects and kills them by physically invading the insect’s body, after which, the fungus feeds insect nutrients to plants with which they associate. Beyond being very interesting organisms, such fungi can be used as a natural means of controlling insects as well as promoting plant health.
Over the course of his work, Professor Bidochka has made very important inroads in understanding how such fungi interact with insects and plants. He and his students have shown that pathogenic fungi not only protect plants from insects but also deliver nutrients, specifically nitrogen, acquired from the insect directly to the plants. This remarkable dual role that the fungi play was not previously known and its recognition is a very important step forward in understanding just how these fungi might best be used to improve yield and quality of agricultural products.
Professor Bidochka has maintained a strong research program since he arrived at Brock in 2001. His career total of 104 refereed publications is just one indicator of his overall research productivity. His work has been published in journals that have a particularly high impact and prestige across the sciences such as Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America.
The high quality of his research is also similarly reflected by his success at attracting and maintaining ongoing and substantial funding for his research. This is particularly true of his support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) who have provided more than half a million dollars in support for his work, which has been continuous since his first year of eligibility in 1996. His lab has also been prolific in terms of training of highly qualified personnel. He has supervised to completion 22 BSc Honours students, eight MSc students and three PhD students.
Professor Bidochka is distinguished by a combination of his willingness to take very thoughtful risks in his research direction and his curiosity to discover new truths about insect pathogenic fungi. Combined with a touch of serendipity, these qualities have led to some very exciting breakthroughs in his laboratory of the last decade.