Daniel Klittich, a doctoral candidate at the University of California (UC Davis), has been awarded the 2015 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship through the American Floral Endowment (AFE).

The merit-based scholarship honors the late Paul Ecke Jr., who made contributions to the advancement of the floriculture industry. It is given to M.S. or Ph.D. students studying horticulture or a related field, who intend to pursue a career as a researcher, scientist or educator.

This prestigious scholarship, established in 2010, is funded by contributions to AFE from the floral industry, the Ecke family and other sources. As the 2015 Ecke recipient, Klittich will receive $5,000 for two consecutive years, provided he continues to meet scholarship requirements.

Klittich, who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in entomology, has been recognized by several organizations for his achievements in research. This latest achievement awards him with a $10,000 scholarship.

“I am very excited. Support from the industry is a very meaningful and appreciated honor,” said Klittich, an aspiring floriculture scientist and educator who grew up in the nursery business.

He said he is grateful for the opportunity to “help the industry move forward” with his work on pest control and management.

Klittich’s research is focused on increasing plant resistance to pests and disease through the use of silicon-based fertilizers.

“I intend to continue this research by testing silicate fertilizers in field trials at production facilities and on new crops. This scholarship will help with technical aspects in the laboratory and allow me to travel and do more field work,” he said.

His research aims to improve plant health through the application of silicon as a soil amendment.

“The end goal of any applied research project should be to give useful, needed information to growers and industry personnel,” Klittich said.

He has participated in numerous floriculture-related workshops and public outreach events.

“Danny has given many presentations of his research at grower meetings in California as well as at regional and national programs under the auspices of the Entomological Society of America,” wrote Dr. Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Entomology and Nematology Department at UC Davis, in his recommendation letter.

“He has written several successful grant proposals, has a number of practical publications and he is committed to a research/extension career focused on the floriculture/nursery industry,” Parrella continued.

Klittich has also collaborated with growers in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties including Pyramid Flowers, Inc., GroLink Chrysanthemums and Ocean Breeze International.

“We have been impressed with his practical and technical knowledge and his experience with research projects. Daniel has an excellent understanding of the needs of agriculture/horticulture growers,” wrote Rene Van Wingerden and Phil Soderman of Ocean Breeze in their recommendation letter.

The two 2014 Ecke recipients, Joshua Craver of Purdue University and Emma Lookabaugh of North Carolina State University, will receive their second year of funding this year.

Craver graduated from Kansas State University with an M.S. in horticulture last May and the scholarship helped him with his move to Purdue University, where he is currently working towards his Ph.D. His research allowed him to publish articles in scientific journals and attend and present at the American Society for Horticultural Science Annual Conference in Florida.

Lookabaugh has used the financial support from the scholarship to attend meetings and form better collaborations with representatives in the floriculture industry.

This year’s funding will help with her travel costs to attend the American Phytopathological Society Annual Meeting in California, where she will be presenting her partial resistance research.