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Director & Co-Project Directors

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Mohammad Arif

Project Director

Dr. Arif is an Associate Professor and Bacteriologist at the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa since October 2016. He is originally from Agra, India. He did his BS in Agriculture, MS in Molecular Biology & Biotechnology, PhD in Biosciences and PG diploma in Bioinformatics.

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Michael Melzer

Project Co-Director

Dr. Melzer oversees the University of Hawaii Agrosecurity Laboratory.  His background is in virology, but his program focuses on biological threats to Hawaii's agriculture and natural ecosystems. Aspects of his program include plant pest and pathogen discovery and diagnostics, clean germplasm, pest and disease surveys, and responses to pest and pathogen invasions. Dr. Melzer is originally from Canada and a graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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Daniel Jenkins

Project Co-Director

Daniel Jenkins is a licensed professional engineer with degrees in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and over 20 years of experience developing integrated electronic and software systems for agriculture and the environment. At the University of Hawaii his work has focused on developing novel molecular tools and handheld instrumentation for detecting pests and pathogens in the field, and more recently supports applied operations to manage invasive species using custom autonomous environmental surveillance to guide precision biocidal application, including through the use of uncrewed aerial systems (drones).

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Kabi Neupane

Project Co-Director

Dr. Neupane is a professor of Biology at Leeward Community College. He has a Bachelors's and Masters's degree in agriculture focusing on plant breeding and genetics and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of Hawaii. Dr. Neupane has been a staunch proponent of undergraduate research programs and has been offering authentic research experiences for students since he joined the Leeward CC as biology faculty in 2002.  

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Francisco M. Ochoa-Corona

Project Co-Director

Dr. Ochoa-Corona is a Sarkeys Distinguished Professor at the Institute for Biosecurity & Microbial Forensics (IBMF) and the Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology, Oklahoma State University (OSU). Dr. Ochoa-Corona is a forensic plant pathologist specializing in developing and delivering reference diagnostics for exotic, naturalized, and indigenous plant viruses and other phytopathogens relevant to agricultural biosecurity and microbial forensics. 

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Francisco Ochoa Corona
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Li Maria Ma

Project Co-Director

Dr. Li Maria Ma is a Professor of food microbiology at the Institute of Biosecurity and Microbial

Forensics (IBMF) of the Oklahoma State University (OSU). She received her Ph.D. in Food Microbiology from Purdue University and her B.S. in Food Engineering from

Dalian Polytechnic University.

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Li Maria Ma
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Andres Espindola

Project Co-Director

Dr. Espindola, an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University who specializes in Biosecurity and Bioinformatics for agricultural hosts. He's an expert in computational and molecular biology and focuses on creating user-friendly tools for detecting plant pathogens in high-throughput data. One of his successful creations is Microbe Finder (MiFi), an interface that detects various pathogens in hosts such as Citrus, Poaceae, Roses, Blueberries, and Pomes. 

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Andres Espindola
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