Scholarship Program

Scholarship Program

Supporting Academic Achievement

This year, the Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) will award a $10,000 academic scholarship to one graduate-level student conducting research for the benefit of the potato industry. The winner is selected based on a number of criteria, including academic achievement, leadership abilities, potato-related areas of graduate study, benefit to the U.S. potato industry/commercial value, extracurricular activities, and grades. 

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2020-2021 scholarship. Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year will be available in the spring of 2021. Please email Hillary Hutchins with any questions. 

2019-2020 Scholarship winner

The National Potato Council congratulates Sofia Giron, a fourth-year doctoral student in Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as the recipient of the 2019-2020 NPC Academic Scholarship. The $10,000 award is provided annually to a graduate student with a strong interest in research that can directly benefit the potato industry.

Giron’s work focuses on improving aspects of the potato silver scurf disease management. This fungal disease causes losses to the fresh and processing markets of the U.S. potato industry, primarily by creating symptoms which result in reduced quality, negatively impacting marketability and processing.

Her research is working to improve the management practices and reduce their environmental impact of the disease by focusing on four goals:

1) Development of an effective season-long fungicide program with both field and post-harvest recommendations; 2) Identification of genomic regions associated with silver scurf resistance to introduce resistance into breeding programs; 3) Determination of a new cost-effective tool to detect azoxystrobin fungicide resistance in the pathogen; and 4) Advancement of a quick tool for silver scurf disease diagnosis and quantification for improved commercial management and experimentation.

Giron is has taken on many leadership and research positions within the university and her community. In addition to serving as a research assistant, lab mentor and teaching fellow, she also volunteers in various organizations and has received numerous awards for her academic work.

After completing her doctoral program, Giron hopes to find a position at a university and become a professor. 


Previous Winners:


  1. Sofia Giron, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. Kirk Amundson, University of California - Davis 


  1. Adrienne Gorny, Cornell University


  1. Justin Clements, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1.  Shunping Ding, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. Washington Luis da Silva, Cornell University


  1. Rhett Spear, Washington State University


  1. Michael Hardigan, Michigan State University


  1. Anders Schmidt Huseth, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. Yu Chen, University of Wisconsin


  1. Jacob M. Blauer. Washington State University


  1. Leah McCann, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  2. Maria Del Pilar Marquez-Villavicencio, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  3. Jason Cavatorta, Cornell University


  1. Magnifique Nzaramba, Texas A&M University
  2. Daniel Justin Gerhardt, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. Per Hilding McCord, North Carolina State University
  2. Sarah Ann Rosenthal, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  1. Lavanya Reddivari, Texas A&M University
  2. Thomas Reed Bowen, University of Idaho


  1. Ioana Dinu, University of Minnesota
  2. Donna Henderson, University of Idaho


  1. Ryon Ottoman, Oregon State University
  2. Jeff Pack, University of Florida


  1. Ryan Hayes, University of Minnesota
  2. Mark Pavek, Washington State University


  1. Anna Hale, Texas A&M University
  2. Megan Carrazana, University of California-Davis


  1. Jane Choi, Washington
  2. Andy Hornbacher, Idaho


  1. Christine Armer, Oregon
  2. Chris Gunter, Wisconsin


  1. Joseph Kuhl, Wisconsin
  2. Silvia Fernandez, Maine