About Mariela Fernadez

Her research focuses on epidemiological and plant disease phenotyping studies of M. oryzae Triticum (MoT), causal agent of the wheat blast disease. Her goal is to develop accurate and precise methods for wheat blast symptom detection using optical sensors, image processing and digital phenotypics. She is interested in developing this technology for high throughput phenotyping purposes.


Research Interests


Plant Phenotyping in controlled environment

Optical Sensors (RGB, hyperspectral and multispectral imaging)

Image processing

Plant Disease Management


Work and Research Experience

  • Botany and Plant Pathology Master’s student at Purdue University. (January 2019 - Today)
  • Consultant in ANAPO (Association of Oilseed and Wheat Producers) Santa Cruz, Bolivia. (November- December 2018)
  • Training researchers about plant phenotyping methodologies for disease progress assess of oryzae Triticum in control environment conditions.
  • Visiting scholar at Purdue University. (May 2018 - November 2018)
  • Working on a phenomic project to assess temporal patterns of plant disease progress (Pyricularia oryzae) in wheat. This project includes collaboration with the Entomology Department and Civil Engineering in which they apport with knowledge about spectroscopy, imaging processing, and modeling.
  • Internship at Dow AgroSciences Indianapolis. (February 2017 - March 2018)
  • Working in several projects of initial screening and characterization of fungicides. Conduct research in greenhouse settings testing a mixture of two fungicides to evaluate the effects on Pyricularia oryzae and Rhizoctonia solani in rice for a new product concept. Small project with the objective to identify mutations in Septoria tritici (two different isolates) putative colonies.
  • Experience with the following crops and diseases interactions:

Wheat: Septoria tritici, Puccina recondita, Erysiphe graminis.

Soybean: Cercospora sojina.

Cucumber: Erysiphe cichoracearum, Pseudoperonospora cubensis.

Grapes: Uncinula necator, Plasmopara viticola.

Tomato: Phytophthora infestans, Alternaria solani.

  • Acquiring experience in herbicides research through implementation of efficacy characterization bioassays and volatility tests.
  • Internship at Dow AgroSciences - Costa Rica. (January to April 2016)
  • Established field evaluations for biological efficacy of insecticides in tomato.
  • Developed protocols for biological efficacy trials of different insecticides, fungicides and herbicides in several crops.
  • Interactive with the regulatory scientist to generate supporting data for the registration of several pesticides in Central America.
  • Teaching assistant and lab instructor ( April to November 2016)

During my senior year at Zamorano I had the experience of leading three lab modules focused on “Post-harvest”, “Organic agriculture” and “Pasture and forage management”.

  • Other significant experience (2013-2016)

Throughout all four years of undergraduate career in Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School I was exposed to the following practical and field lab modules:

  • Plant Production: fruit crops, forest plantations, grain/seed production, farm machinery, irrigation and drainage, soil conservation, intensive and extensive olericulture, protected horticulture, propagation of ornamental plants, seedlings and propagation, organic agriculture, biological control, molecular biotechnology and tissue culture.
  • Animal Production: Dairy cattle, meat cattle, pork, poultry, aquaculture, agricultural administration and animal reproductive biotechnology and Management.
  • Food Processing: Balanced food processing plant, seed processing factory, grain processing plant, sawmill, bakery, fruit and vegetable processing factory, post-harvest, dairy processing plant, meat processing factory and honey processing plant.
  • Socio-economic Development and Environment: rural development, biological monitoring, natural resources, environmental management, renewable energy sources, topography and Geographic Information Systems.



B.Sc. in Agronomic Engineer. (2016).

Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School. Honduras, Central America.



  • Fernandez, M, Mathieson, T., Gallup, C. Rhizoctonia solani and Pyricularia oryzae control by a mixture of fungicides. Internship poster presentation. Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis.
  • Fernandez, M., Trabanino, R., Pitty, A. Cocom, M., Cedeno, A. Evaluation of the biological efficacy of Sulfoxaflor and Imidacloprid insecticides for the control of Bemisia tabaci in tomato. Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School. Honduras. https://bdigital.zamorano.edu/bitstream/11036/5919/3/CPA-2016-T043.pdf


Professional Meetings, Seminars and Workshops

Conference organized

  • International forum “The leadership of the Zamoranas”…30 years later (2014) Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Professional meetings

  • International Conference of Plant Pathology (2018) Boston, USA.
  • American Phytopathological Society Annual Meeting (2017) San Antonio, USA.
  • Soil Week in Honduras (2016). Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  • Global Youth Forum, FAO (2015). Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  • Houston International Livestock Congress (2015). Houston, Texas.
  • Regional Economics and Business Management Seminar (2014) Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


Professional Skills

 Research: Greenhouse, field and laboratory experiments

Statistics: Statistical software packages: SAS, ARM, JMP.

Plant pathogens: Fungus identification, purification, increasing, and preserving. Disease assessment.

Photography: Micro and macrophotography.

Fungicides: Formulation of the compounds, application, fungicide resistance.

Molecular: PCR.



  • Spanish: Native language
  • English: Advanced TOEFL iBT 91
  • Mandarin: Beginner

Extracurricular Activities

  • Representative of my major, Student Council. Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (2014- 2016)
  • Secretary, Dairy Cattle Judging Club and Rodeo Club. Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (2014 -2015)
  • Secretary, Board of directors Maya Dorm. Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (2015 -2016)
  • Vocal, Board of directors Maya Dorm. Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (2013 -2015)
  • Entrepreneurship Club (How to start a business? First steps). Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School (2015)
  • Soccer Team (Captain 1 year). Zamorano Pan American Agricultural School (2014- 2016)
  • Navidad es Jesus (Volunteer organizing Christmas parties for children with limited resources) Costa Rica (2011)

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