Fulbright scholar visits FVSU

by Latasha Ford

Posted on May 01, 2018

FVSU researchers and graduate students learn details about the wheat blast disease and biopesticides from Fulbright visiting scholar Dr. Md. Tofazzal Islam (center).

A biotechnologist who specializes in molecular plant-pathogen interactions recently spent time on Fort Valley State University's campus as a visiting Fulbright scholar.

Giving his ninth lecture in the United States, Dr. Md. Tofazzal Islam, a professor and head of the Department of Biotechnology of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) in Bangladesh, is working with the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design at West Virginia University.

Dr. Bipul Biswas, a FVSU assistant professor of plant science, and Drs. Uttam Saha and Savithri Nambeesan from the University of Georgia (UGA) jointly applied and secured funding from the Fulbright Scholar Program's Outreach Lecturing Fund (OLF) for Islam to travel and deliver lectures at FVSU and UGA.

Islam spoke to FVSU's College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology researchers and graduate students about his project titled, "Novel Bioactive Natural Products for Sustainable Management of Plant Diseases and Bioprospecting."

During his lecture, Islam discussed the challenge of emerging plant diseases in food security. He said in 2016, Bangladesh experienced a catastrophic plant disease called wheat blast. In its first attack, the fungal disease destroyed 15,000 hectares of wheat, causing a drastic loss in wheat production. Islam said in 2017, the wheat blast disease moved to India.

Islam's research involves discovering new bioactive compounds to help with managing plant diseases like wheat blast. Over the years, he has discovered more than 60 new bioactive natural products. He noted Bangladesh is investing in agricultural research and application of research findings to ensure food security.

"Our concern is whether we can steadily increase the food production in the future to feed the growing population. Food security is a very big problem," Islam warned. He said another concern is global climate change because Bangladesh is a low-lying country.

The Fulbright Scholar Program's OLF provides funding for campuses to host Fulbright visiting scholars, already in the U.S., for short-term speaking engagements. The OLF travel award enriches both institutions and visiting scholars through lectures that will promote academic disciplines and cultural understanding.

For more information about Islam's visit or Fulbright lectures at FVSU, contact Biswas at (478) 825-6827 or

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