Past AWSEF Scholarship Winners
Kirsten Skogerson, PhD
2005 Banfi Vintners Scholarship and 2006 Tennessee AWS Chapter Scholarship Recipient While Studying at University of California, Davis
I was an AWSEF scholarship recipient in 2005 and 2006. Prior to joining the Viticulture & Enology Program at the University of CA, Davis in 2004, I had completed degrees in Chemistry and Biochemistry, and worked for five years in pharma in discovery research—but had also cooked in two of Boston’s top fine-dining restaurants, written restaurant and wine reviews as a freelance writer, and passed the certification program to prepare for the Master of Wine exam. I decided I wanted to do something more creative with my science – winemaking – and worked two vintages in Europe to get some experience before entering the Enology program at UCD. But to my surprise, once I started my studies I decided wine research was my calling instead, and threw myself into the lab work.
I was so grateful to receive both AWSEF scholarships. Funding for wine students and research in the US comes almost exclusively from private donations and gifts (in contrast to other countries where research is funded by a levy paid by both growers and wineries). Scholarships paid my tuition, funded my research, and covered conference attendance and travel between hemispheres to get multiple seasons of data in one calendar year.
The MS research ultimately led to a PhD in Agricultural Chemistry, and a job at Monsanto, where I’ve been for the past seven years. Though I’ve traded Cabernet Sauvignon for corn and soybeans, the research I did in grapes and wine at UC Davis made me the scientist I am today. I still very much enjoy wine, occasionally make it myself (from a Cab Sauv/Norton cross, Crimson Cab), and a few years back presented a wine chemistry seminar at the company that was perhaps the best-attended Monsanto Chemistry Seminar Series in the series’ history. These days I continue to share my joy of wine and wine chemistry with family and friends, as well as through charitable events with a wine-centered theme. Updated 22Oct2018 kgl
Gordon Walker, PhD
2011 South Carolina AWS Regional Scholarship and 2012 Banfi Vintners Foundation/AWSEF Scholarshp while studying at the University of California, Davis
My experience with AWSEF over the years has been wonderful. Getting the AWSEF scholarship was incredibly important to my graduate career. It was the first grant that I received outside of UC Davis and provided major validation that my research was worth while. The grant allowed me to buy lab materials, travel to the annual ASEV meeting, and focus on research full-time. Thanks to the support I receiving early on from AWSEF I was able to elucidate interactions between yeast and wine spoilage bacteria that lead to problem fermentations. My research established a mechanism for problem fermentations via the induction of the [GAR+] prion in populations of yeast.
Since graduating UC Davis I have worked two harvests at Opus One Winery doing applied ecological research on oxidation reduction potential in wine. I also isolated, characterized, and propagated wild yeast for production; enhancing the microbial terroir of the wine at Opus. I have also lived and traveled around New Zealand, visiting Universities and government institutions to present on my graduate research (originally funded by AWSEF).
Currently I am working as a sales representative for Flotek around Napa and the greater Bay Area. We provide instrumentation and equipment to biopharma, innovative food companies, and wineries to help them improve their bioprocesses.
Thanks again to AWSEF for believing in me and giving me a chance to focus on research. Updated 22Oct2018 kgl
Justine E. Vanden Heuvel, PhD
2001 Lucio Sorre Scholarship (Banfi) Scholarship Winner while studying at the University of Guelph, Ontario
I’m an Associate Professor of Viticulture, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for Viticulture & Enology, at Cornell University. I was thrilled to win the AWSEF scholarship because it was a great recognition that my work was useful to anyone outside of academia! I attended the conference in Hilton Head that year and met a lot of great people who were doing interesting things with their grapes and wines. It also brought me some recognition on campus (University of Guelph in Canada) since (I was told that) I was the first student from outside of the U.S. to win the award.
Thanks to the AWSEF for all that you do for students. These scholarships are really coveted because the students know how competitive they are. Updated8Oct18kgl
Chris Snowden, PhD
2007 Commercial Wine Competition Judges Scholarship Winner and 2008 AWSEF Endowment Fund Scholarship Winner while studying at the University of Guelph, Ontario
I obtained my PhD in Microbiology from the University of Guelph in 2012. The focus of my thesis was the nutrient-dependent turnover of hexose transporters on Saccharomyces cerevisiae. During my studies I characterized the yeast’s ability to degrade two hexose transporters (Hxt3 and Hxt7) in response to a shift to depleted nutrient conditions. As it turns out, as yeast grow and consume the nutrients (nitrogen or glucose) in their environment it stimulates the cells to degrade their hexose transporters. When these hexose transporters are degraded the cells lack the capacity to transport sufficient glucose to maintain fermentation and this often causes a stuck fermentation. In 2013 I began my postdoc research in Mark Johnston’s lab at the University of Colorado – Denver in the department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. This position has provided me the opportunity to continue my study of membrane proteins and nutrient signaling in S. cerevisiae. The focus of my current research is characterizing a glucose signaling pathway that is comprised of two unique glucose sensors that are homologous to hexose transporters, but do not transport glucose, rather they generate an intercellular signal after binding external glucose. The understanding of glucose sensing, signaling and transport is fundamental to wine fermentation and although I am now working at a medical school my research remains highly applicable to the wine industry. My passion for wine has continued to grow over the years and I am very thankful for the support I received from the American Wine Society. Cheers! Updated01Oct18kgl
Vinay Pagay, PhD
2007 N. Alabama AWS Chapter Scholarship Recipient while studying at Cornell University
I received an AWSEF scholarship in 2007 while a graduate student at Cornell University where I was completing a Masters in viticulture. The scholarship allowed me to purchase valuable books and provided me with some travel funds to visit vineyards on the west coast, both of which contributed greatly to my learning and appreciation of the field of viticulture. I went on to receive a Ph.D. in viticulture at Cornell where I worked on a new technology to measure vine water status for the purposes of optimizing irrigation scheduling in vineyards. Following a short stint at Oregon State University where I was Assistant Professor of Viticulture, I relocated to Australia in early 2015 to take up a position at the University of Adelaide on the Waite campus where I currently research and teach viticulture. My ecophysiology and climate adaptation lab at Adelaide is working on new approaches for plant-sensor based irrigation scheduling in vineyards, and mitigating the effects of high temperature in vineyards to improve vine performance and grape and wine quality. I remain grateful to AWSEF for awarding me a scholarship and for staying connected. Updated 24Sept18kgl
Emily Terrell, MS
2007 Columbus, Ohio AWS Chapter Scholarship Winner and 2008 AWSEF Scholarship Winner while studying at the University of British Columbia
The generous award of the 2007 and 2008 AWSEF scholarships allowed me to focus on my M.Sc. research at the University of British Columbia under Dr. Hennie van Vuuren. At the time, I was investigating yeast’s biotin biosynthetic pathway and biotin status during fermentation. However, the metabolic diversity among industrial yeast strains uncovered during this project led to my thesis work, which investigated mixed Saccharomyces strain fermentations in a Pinot noir model system. This research spurred my interest in the wine industry itself, and following my M.Sc. thesis defense, I headed to Australia, where I worked my first harvest in the laboratory at Red Hills Estate on the Mornington Peninsula. My interest in crafting thoughtful research- and science-informed wines grew, and I spent three years working in various parts of the world, including the Okanagan Valley (Canada), Marlborough (NZ), Central Otago (NZ), the northern Rhone Valley (FR), and, finally, the northern Willamette Valley (Oregon), where I settled in 2012. Since that time, I have had the good fortune to work with one of my favorite varietals, Pinot noir, under a great mentor, Robert Brittan, in a setting committed to crafting site-expressive wines of the highest caliber. Our small company, a partnership between Brittan Vineyards and Winderlea Wine Company, has fostered my growth and development from Intern to Cellar Supervisor to my current position as Assistant Winemaker. Although I no longer professionally engage in research science, I firmly believe that the skills I acquired during graduate training continue to significantly contribute to my success in the wine industry. Thus, I very much appreciate the AWSEF’s contribution to my studies and it is my hope that the foundation will continue to graciously support graduate students through their scholarship program.
Michelle Moyer, PhD
2006 Lucio Sorre Memorial Scholarship (Banfi) and 2007 Eastern PA AWS Regional Scholarship Winner while studying at Cornell University
I received my PhD in Plant Pathology from Cornell University, where I looked at how powdery mildew of grape developed and progressed in the vineyard. Working in the Finger Lakes, and spending two seasons in South Australia, really helped form a love of viticulture and production logistics. From this experience, I knew I wanted to continue my research focus on grapes, but also wanted to extend my efforts in Extension and Outreach. In 2011, I joined the Horticulture faculty at Washington State University as an Assistant Professor and Statewide Viticulture Extension Specialist. My Extension responsibilities cover all aspects of grape production (juice grapes, wine grapes, and processing grapes) in Washington. This entails the creation of education materials for viticulture, instructing courses in both the Viticulture and the Enology Certificate Programs, the development of educational workshops, and the timely dissemination of information to growers to help improve production practices. My industry-driven research responsibilities focus on applied aspects of canopy management on fruit quality and vine health, mechanized approaches to production, and integrated vineyard management with an emphasis on pest management. Updated10Sept18kgl
Renee Threlfall, PhD
1994 and 1995 AWSEF Scholarship Recipient while studying at University of Arkansas
Dr. Renee Threlfall is a Research Scientist and Adjunct Faculty at the Food Science Department, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. At the University of Arkansas, she completed her B.S. in Microbiology and M.S. and Ph.D. in Food Science with an emphasis in enology and viticulture. In 1994, she was honored to be one of the first recipients of an American Wine Society Scholarship, which has contributed to her continued interest in the grape and wine industry.
Her research efforts at the University of Arkansas are focused on specialty crops with expertise in enology and viticulture, as well as processing and postharvest storage of fruit (grapes, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, etc.). She has over 40 refereed journal publications. She teaches an introduction enology and viticulture class, Uncorked: Vines to Wines, at the University of Arkansas each fall and teaches enology, viticulture and sensory topics for grape and wine production in other Food Science classes.
Dr. Threlfall is a member of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV), ASEV-Eastern Section and the American Wine Society. She serves as the Administrator for the ASEV-Eastern Section with duties that include annual conference planning and the management of the organization. Dr. Threlfall is also a member of the Arkansas Association of Grape Growers and serves on the Arkansas Wine Producers Council. Updated 03Sept18kgl
Patty Skinkis, PhD
2004 and 2005 AWSEF Scholarship Recipient While Studying at Purdue University
Dr. Skinkis says, "I feel very fortunate to have received a scholarship from the American Wine Society Educational Foundation during my graduate studies at Purdue University. Having the support was helpful beyond its monetary value. I was impressed that organizations such as AWS were willing to support the educational endeavors of students as they advanced into careers as professional viticulturists and enologists. I especially appreciated the opportunity to speak with the AWS at their annual conference in November 2004 in State College, PA. It was there that I was warmly welcomed by the AWSEF board and the other AWS members who were excited to hear about my PhD research studies. I also appreciated the opportunity to write about my research for the AWS magazine in the years that followed.
After graduating with my PhD in Horticulture (Viticulture) from Purdue in 2006, I was off to Oregon State University where I started my position as Viticulture Extension Specialist and assistant professor in January 2007. In this position, I work within the three missions of the land grant university, providing Extension programming, conducting research, and teaching undergraduate and graduate students. My primary role has been to provide education and outreach to the winegrape industry and to provide them with new information from applied research projects that are designed to address production issues. During the 11 years that I have been at Oregon State University, I have conducted integrated research and outreach programs that focus on yield management and canopy management. One of my long-term projects has been addressing the yield-quality paradigm, trying to scientifically determine whether lowering yields enhances fruit and wine quality, and how yield modification changes fruit composition. To date, I have engaged more than 20 commercial Pinot noir producers in the study over a six year period, and the results are helping the industry redefine their yield management goals for premium quality Pinot noir wines. Our results show that site is more important than crop yield, and reducing crop level through cluster thinning does not universally increase fruit and wine quality parameters. As we continue to work on the project, we continue to question how and why crop manipulation may lead to differences in quality in some but not all vineyards or seasons.
I truly enjoy working with the winegrape industry in Oregon, the US, and worldwide. The industry is more diverse than any other horticultural crop, and there are endless opportunities for scientific inquiry in what we do in the vineyard and winery. I thank the AWSEF for their support and for their ardent support of the industry’s future leaders." Updated27Aug18kgl
Elwyn A. Gladstone, MS
1998 AWSEF Scholarship Recipient While Studying at University of California-Davis
Mr. Gladstone shared this with us, "From 1993-1997 I studied at Edinburgh University where I got a BSc (1st Class) in Crop Sciences - while studying, I also worked part-time in a wine store and became extremely interested in wines and spirits. I was extremely fortunate to receive a number of scholarships to attend UC Davis which I did from 1997-1998 - University of California, Davis (MS) in Viticulture. At UC Davis, I worked with Dr. Nick Dokoozlian on my thesis about light interception in grapevine canopies and had the paper published in AJEV.
I took a slight diversion away from academia and went to work in the UK from 1998-2001 for H.P.Bulmer, the owner of famous cider brands such as Strongbow in Hereford, England. There, I worked as a Brand Manager on the development of new, high quality cider brands. From there, I went into the world of spirits from 2001-2007 - Wm Grant and Sons - based in London and then New York where I was Head of New Brand Development - working on the development of brands such as Hendrick’s Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Reyka Vodka and many others. Next, I went to work at a newly formed company - from 2007-2015 - I was the CMO at Proximo Spirits - part of the Jose Cuervo Company where we developed existing brands such as 1800 Tequila, Jose Cuervo as well as created new brands such as Kraken Rum and Tin Cup Whiskey.
I had always wanted to start my own business and build a brand that I owned myself and from 2015-Present - I started up Biggar and Leith - where I created and launched MALFY Gin and SPYTAIL Rum. I sell these brands in over 50 countries around the world and throughout the USA.
I am married to Charlotte and have two children - Isla and Elwyn; we live in New Jersey." Updated 20Aug18kgl
Steven Marko, MS
2001 AWSEF Scholarship Recipient While Studying at California State University, Fresno
Mr. Marko sent us this update, "A huge thank you to the AWSEF and its scholarship program. With my award in 2001, I was able to continue my education, research, and complete my M.S. degree at California State University, Fresno. As a graduate student, I had to leave my career to attend school full-time, and the scholarship awards help in every way. With the help of AWSEF, I was able to study aromatic compounds in wine oak barrels, and the affect ozone sanitation may have on them. This research also helped strengthen the procedure to analyze headspace volatiles using solid phase extraction; a procedure commonly used today. Essentially, looking at all the great aromas in wine that come from barrel aging! It was exciting research and the publication was very well received by many winemakers and owners within the industry.
Today, I continue to study food science and lead a team of product developers as Senior Director of Research & Development at Tillamook County Creamery Association. We produce quality crafted cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and many other dairy products from our farmer owned association. I still make wine as a hobby at my home in Portland, OR, and share my joys of science and cooking with my wife, Claire and my 8 year old daughter Nora.
Sincere thank you to AWSEF for helping me achieve such a fulfilling and rewarding career!"
Publication: Marko SD, ES Dormedy, KC Fugelsang, DF Dormedy, B Gump, RL Wample. 2005. Analysis of Oak Volatiles by Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) After Ozone Sanitization. Amer Journal Enology Viticulture, 56(1).