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Bull Lab Welcomes Fulbright Scholar Irda Safni

Posted: December 14, 2015

Fulbright Scholar Dr. Irda Safni arrived from Indonesia on Dec. 1 to conduct research in Dr. Carolee Bull's lab.
Bull Lab: (L-R) Drs. Irda Safni, Laura Ramos-Sepulveda, and Carolee Bull

Bull Lab: (L-R) Drs. Irda Safni, Laura Ramos-Sepulveda, and Carolee Bull

Fulbright Scholar Dr. Irda Safni arrived from Indonesia on Dec. 1 to research seed disease detection of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aptata on chard, beet, and melon with Dr. Carolee Bull. Like Dr. Bull, Dr. Safni is a taxonomist who will enjoy working with the complex taxonomy of Pseudomonas syringae pv. aptata.

Dr. Safni's six-month grant (Dec. 1-May 31) will enrich her current work for the Indonesian government as a Public Servant at the University of Sumatera Utara, Dept. of Agrotechnology (a merger of Agronomy, Soil Science, and Plant Pathology). Her work consists of three aspects, the Tridharma of higher education: teaching (microbiology, plant virology, and plant bacteriology), community service, and research (Dr. Safni's favorite).

Born in Surabaya, East Java (Indonesia's second largest city), Dr. Safni grew up in Medan, North Sumatra (Indonesia's third largest city and location of the University of Sumatra Utara). Her father was an agronomist who worked for a palm oil plantation company. While he and his wife traveled from plantation to plantation (mostly palm oil plantations, some rubber plantations), Dr. Safni and her younger sister lived with their maternal grandmother in Medan to receive a higher-quality education. It was Dr. Safni's father who encouraged her to pursue agriculture.

In the course of undergraduate studies, Dr. Safni became interested in plant pathology. For her master's degree program she chose crop protection with an emphasis on plant bacteria. In her microbiology Ph.D. program, Dr. Safni focused her dissertation on the Ralstonia solanacearum Species Complex in taxonomy, addressing one of the most dangerous plant bacterial diseases worldwide. Her dissertation research was done in part at the University of Ghent, Belgium. During her doctoral research she discovered a new species and revised the taxonomy of the Ralstonia solanacearum Species Complex. She has had the opportunity to present her findings in Shanghai, China; Perth and Darwin, Australia; and on Réunion Island (a French island east of Madagascar).

On Dec. 12 Dr. Safni welcomed her husband Teuku and stepson Adriansyah, who came from Indonesia to visit Dr. Safni and her daughter Aqila over the holiday break.