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INTAD Student Speaks at World Cocao Foundation Meeting

Posted: December 5, 2016

Megan Wilkerson, Ph.D. candidate in Entomology and International Agriculture and Development, was featured in the Innovation Showcase at the World Cocoa Foundation Meeting in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
Megan Wilkerson is pictured second from the right

Megan Wilkerson is pictured second from the right

Eight individuals were elected to present their cocoa-related innovations to an audience of four hundred members of the cocoa industry. Megan spoke on the Atopitx device, which was developed by Penn State alumni Dr. Perry Edwards and current Penn State professor Zhiwen Liu.  Atopitx is a mobile miniature optical spectroscopy that can diagnose plant disease in the field. Below is a transcript of Megan's talk, further describing the importance of Atopitx:

"Bacteria, fungi and viruses are the major causative agents which limit agricultural productivity on a global basis. In order to minimize crop loss and maximize sustainability, advanced plant diseased detection is imperative to food security. Although there are a variety of contexts that effect crop health, pathogenic infections account for nearly 40% of losses.  In order to minimize disease induced damage caused by pathogens, early detection is a preventive measure that is essential to production efficiency.   

When it comes to disease diagnosis, plant pathologists often rely on symptoms to validate infection, however Atoptix has develop a simple technology that puts a mobile plant pathologist directly in the pockets of growers worldwide. Atoptix has engineered a high-performance mobile spectroscopy solution that offers a miniature, low-cost platform that integrates with mobile devices in the field.

A leaf is loaded into the Atoptix Plant Health Diagnostic Device, and light is passed through the sample and reflected back into the device. The device measures transmittance and uses algorithms to quantify the leaf sample. The newly generated wavelength is then compared to similar readings in the database which differentiates between healthy and diseased plant material.  

The platform offers a network of disease detection so that officials, community members, and growers can all stay up to date on disease progression, drawing on the power of community.  Plant Village offers immediate feedback so that when a disease is detected, a diagnosis and follow up steps can be taken, and conversations with leading experts in the field and other growers can be begin for optimizing treatments and follow up care. A plant detection process that normally requires heavy machinery, expensive inputs and molecular expertise can now be done in seconds from anywhere in the world."

The president and first lady of Cote d'Ivoire were in attendance and congratulated Megan on her presentation.  Also pictured in the photo are the president of the World Cocoa Foundation and Murielle Ahoure, Olympic sprinter representing Cote d'Ivoire.