Dr. Walter F. Mahaffee was honored as the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology 2015 Alumnus of the Year at a ceremony April 16. Mahaffee is a three-time graduate of Auburn University, earning his B.S. in microbiology in 1988 and his M.S. and Ph.D. in plant pathology in 1991 and 1996, respectively.
After completing his Ph.D., Mahaffee accepted a position as a research plant pathologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Horticultural Crops Research Lab in Corvallis, Ore. He continues in that position today, with a research focus on foliar diseases of plants, including hops. He has also been successful in developing disease forecast aids for several powdery mildew diseases, including powdery mildew of grape. In addition, Mahaffee works on Botrytis gray mold disease on floricultural crops and diseases of blackberries.
Mahaffee uses his role as a researcher to work directly with growers, providing information, sharing research results and conducting demonstration trials. He is a frequent presenter at grower group meetings and has developed or co-developed 11 workshops for various grower groups in Oregon and Washington states, in addition to developing extension materials and providing information to trade journals.
Outside of his responsibilities with ARS, Mahaffee has also held teaching positions at both Oregon State and Washington State universities.
Nominations for the 2015 alumni awards were submitted by departments and units within the Auburn University College of Agriculture. The final selection was made by a committee that included the dean, associate deans, department heads and unit directors.