To see all previous AWSEF scholarship winners and a summary of their research, click here.

2021 AWSEF Scholarship Winners

View the 2021 Scholarship Winners and their Research Projects Video below!

YouTube video.

Evelyn-Alvarez-Mendoza, MS

2021 North Alabama AWS Chapter Scholarship Recipient While Studying at California Polytechnic State university

My graduate research work is focused on investigating fungicide resistance of Erysiphe necator (powdery mildew) and Botrytis cinerea (botrytis bunch rot) populations in the Central Coast region of California.

This research involves conducting a vineyard survey in which multiple powdery mildew samples are collected from several conventional vineyards. These samples are evaluated for the detection of mutations that confer fungicide resistance to quinone outside inhibitor (QoI) fungicides.

The second component of my study explores the rate at which QoI fungicide resistance accumulates in powdery mildew populations. This study involves simulating a fungicide spray program by employing multiple fungicide applications on field trial grapevines. Afterwards, powdery mildew pathogens are collected and evaluated for fungicide resistance.

The third chapter of my research aims at profiling fungicide resistance in B. cinerea populations on wine grapes to six different commercial fungicide active ingredients. This consists of the collection of multiple B. cinerea isolates from diverse organic and conventional vineyards. Upon identifying fungicide-resistant phenotypes for the collected isolates, effective concentration (EC50) values of the fungicides with different modes of action are determined based on the pathogen growth responses. As one of the first studies conducted on Powdery Mildew and Botrytis fungicide resistance on wine grapes in the Central Coast of California, the results from my research study will enable growers in this region to develop and implement effective chemical control programs in their vineyards to improve disease management. My overall research goal is to assist wine grape growers in the efficient and economical management of their vineyards by relaying information that can help modify fungicide programs for successful disease control. In this way, growers can select effective fungicides and reduce the application of those deemed ineffective due to resistance accumulation. I look forward to the potential contribution that my research work can make towards the enhancement of viticultural practices and optimization of wine grape production.  


Sarah Bogenrief, MS

2021 Banfi Vintners Scholarship While Studying at North Dakota State University

Although the wine and grape industry of North America has been booming for decades, recognition of North Dakota’s viticulture and enology has only just begun. At North Dakota State University, cold hardy viticulture research has been pivotal in paving paths for local wine makers.

My research addresses hardships faced by growers during treacherous winter months in northern latitudes, while providing answers to the possible fate of their vines. Due to winter injury, vines tend to be unreliable year to year.

Taking on this challenge, I also utilize cold hardy fruits in wine making and experimenting with small scale microvinifications made from experimental grape crosses. Transforming the humble grape into a palate tingling prairie wine is the aim of both myself and the wine industry of North Dakota. 


Hannah Charnock, PhD

2021 Cleveland, Ohio AWS Chapter Scholarship While Studying at Brock University

My research is focused on understanding chemical reactions that drive flavour development in sparkling wine. Specifically, my current research is centered on a specific sub-set of flavour-reactions, known as the Maillard reaction (MR). Several intermediate MR compounds have been identified in aged sparkling wines, where they contribute caramel, nutty and roasted aromas, although the route to their formation in sparkling wines is unclear.

During my studies, I am investigating links to both vineyard and winery environments to better understand the factors leading to the development of MR compounds during sparkling wine production and ageing. In the future, this research has the potential to impact the North American wine industry by informing strategies to enhance sparkling wine quality with minimal cost and process changes, and will also provide an improved understanding of the chemical and kinetic pathways that lead to the formation of MR flavours in sparkling wine.


Bailey Hallswachs, MS

2021 Eastern Tenneesee/Smoky Mountains AWS Chapter Scholarship While Studying at Washington State University

The research I conduct is focused on the anatomical, morphological, and physiological changes that occur in a grapevine as result of Grapevine Red Blotch Virus (GRBV) infection. GRBV is a significant virus responsible for disrupting proper grapevine development and berry formation.

I am particularly concerned with how this virus changes the grapevines cellular components and the resulting downstream processes that are disrupted. To do this I am using a variety of high-powered electron microscopes to discover what the naked eye cannot see. Ultimately, my research is aimed at providing a thorough investigation of how GRBV functions in the grapevine. This will lead us one step closer to forming more management strategies to mitigate viral spread. 



Lauren Marigliano, MS

2021 Thomas Jefferson, Kentucky AWS Chapter Scholarship While Studying at University of California, Davis

Currently, California’s premium grape-growing regions do not implement drastic measures for mitigating deleterious effects of excessive heat and light exposure on grape quality.  With excessive heat and droughts becoming more frequent with climate change, maintaining the production of premium quality grapes and wine may become increasingly challenging. In preparation for climate change conditions, my research aims to evaluate the vulnerability of Cabernet Sauvignon grape berries to solar radiation overexposure using overhead polyethylene shade films in an effort to mitigate heat and water stress on grapevines.

This project is separated into two major components, the first of which focuses on elucidating the impact of selective solar exclusion via overhead shade films on vine physiology and grape quality parameters. Vine physiology and plant-water relations underneath the shade films are tracked throughout the season via stem water potential, evapotranspiration rates and gas exchange parameters. Primary and secondary metabolite composition in the fruit is also tracked to determine the impact of partial solar exclusion on berry quality. From this fruit, wine is then produced to determine if the impacts of the shade films on grape juice composition transfer into the wine during and after vinification. The expectation from this second component of the project is to determine if there this a correlation and carry-over between the flavonoid profile from the berry skins at harvest and the final wines under each shading treatment. With these results, recommendations to growers can be made regarding the effectiveness of the shade films in improving wine flavonoid profiles by reducing overexposure and degradation.

My aspirations for this project involve presenting this technology to grape growers with the hope that this technology will be adopted in the near future. If adopted, California grape growers will not only see improvements in grape and wine quality, but preliminary data from the 2020 growing season shows reduced evapotranspiration from shaded vines. Ultimately, this reduced water loss from the vines leads to approximately one-third less water being used for irrigation. The environmental implications of lessened water use for places like California, which experiences long and frequent drought periods, are astronomical. Additionally, growers will not only be requiring less water, but they will also be saving money by reducing their water costs. 


Portiaa-Anne McGonigal, PhD

2021 North Eastern, Pennsylvania AWS Chapter Scholarship While Studying at University of British Columbia

Crown gall is an economically devastating bacterial grapevine disease that is particularly problematic in cold-climate grape-growing regions. The causal agent of grapevine crown gall is Allorhizobium vitis, a vascular bacterial pathogen that is typically introduced into vineyards via propagation material. Once A. vitis has been introduced into vineyard soil it is essentially impossible to completely eradicate it. The pathogen can persist in the soil for at least two years even after diseased vines are removed. Following infection, tumor formation in diseased vines is triggered by wounds caused by grafting, mechanical injury, or winter freezing. Symptoms of disease can be severe, especially in young vines, and include reduced crop quality, decreased vine performance, and partial/or complete vine death. Given that A. vitis is an unregulated plant pathogen and there is no required testing for A. vitis prior to shipment, infected planting material being imported into North America is at high risk of developing crown gall disease upon planting, putting a heavy economic strain on affected vineyards.

Therefore, effective management strategies are urgently required. My project entails testing compost application as a potential strategy for managing crown gall disease in the field, as well as testing potential biological control agents against A. vitis in greenhouse trials. My overall goal is to identify sustainable management strategies that grape growers across North America can employ to combat crown gall in their vineyards. Results of this project can be implemented to help reduce the economic losses typically associated with this disease by improving grapevine health and crop quality, as well as improving wine quality in affected vineyards. My research is ultimately striving to preserve our beautiful North American vineyards so that the next generation of viticulturalists, wine connoisseurs, and tourists alike will be able to enjoy them. 


Demetra Perry, PhD

2021 Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania AWS Chapter Scholarship While Studying at Cornell University

There are not many certainties in the world of agriculture: rainfall comes and goes, temperatures fluctuate wildly, hail destroys one acre but leaves the one adjacent untouched. Yet, in the North American wine and grape industry, one point of constancy is deep-rooted plantings of Concord grapes, the most widely planted grape in the state of New York and an important part of the agroeconomy of many regions in North America. Despite being widely available and inexpensive to purchase, Concord is often overlooked by winemakers- being marked as a juice grape, but nothing more due to its distinctive aroma and flavor. A surplus of Concord grapes and a sharp decline in juice sales has left growers with excess supply in the face of relatively little demand. My research aims to capitalize on the excess to transform a disgraced table grape into a product suitable for premium red wine production.

This research is a multi-faceted project that involves collaborations with colleagues and members of the juice and wine industries. A two-step approach connecting a membrane with pore sizes on the nanometer scale and a semi-selective resin is utilized to “deodorize” the Concord juice and create a blank slate for fermentation yeast. Once the juice is processed, I use Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to characterize the juice before fermenting it to understand the effects processing has on fermentation kinetics. I compare the volatile profile of the resulting wines using GC-MS and sensory analysis to elucidate how reduced concentrations of methyl anthranilate, the molecule responsible for Concord’s distinct grapey flavor, are perceived by red wine consumers in a red wine matrix. By engaging wine industry members in the conversation, I can factor their desires and concerns with such a product into my research to generate data that will provide direct feedback on the successful incorporation of this product into the wine market.