Turfgrass Trends for Changing Times – Speakers

North Carolina State University’s
Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education
Third Annual Research Symposium

Guest Speakers

Dr. Lane Tredway

Senior Technical Representative



Lane Tredway, Ph.D., is a senior technical representative for Syngenta, with responsibilities for turf and landscape in the Southeastern U.S. In this role he works with turf managers, sales representatives, and university specialists to develop effective pest management programs. As the son of a golf course superintendent and grandson of a golf course architect, Lane has been involved in the turfgrass industry for most of his life. He received a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia, an M.S. in Plant Biology from Rutgers University, and a B.S. in Agronomic Science from Penn State University. Prior to joining Syngenta, he was an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University. In this role he published extensively on the biology and management of turf diseases in the transition zone, and in 2010 received the NC State Alumni Association Outstanding Extension and Outreach Award.
Dr. Casey Reynolds

Executive Director

Turfgrass Producers International

Dr. Reynolds is the Executive Director of Turfgrass Producers International (TPI), an association with turfgrass producer and supplier members in at least 43 US States and 25 countries. He joined TPI in 2017 after serving as a Turfgrass Extension Specialist at Texas A&M University since 2013 and as a Turfgrass Research and Extension Associate at NC State University, where he completed his PhD. Dr. Reynolds is a passionate advocate for turfgrasses and their importance and function in urban and suburban environments. His role at TPI includes Executive Director management duties, advocacy and regulatory affairs, marketing and strategic positioning of natural turfgrass, educational content development, member services, and more.
Vance Crowe

Director of Millennial Engagement


Vance Crowe is the Director of Millennial Engagement at Bayer in Saint Louis, Missouri. Vance is a former Communications Strategist for the World Bank Group, a returned U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in Kenya, a former communications coordinator at a National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate in Northern California and was a deckhand on an eco-tourism ship that traveled in the Western Hemisphere. Vance holds an undergraduate degree in communications and sociology from Marquette University and a Master’s Degree in Cross-Cultural Negotiations from the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy. Vance came to  Monsanto in 2014 with limited knowledge or understanding of agriculture or biological sciences. In this role, Vance has been empowered to seek out internal and external experts in the fields of biology, chemistry, genetics, evolutionary biology, weed management, crop sciences, agronomy and corporate culture. He has toured farms ranging from row crops, vegetables, orchards, feed yards, hydroponics and aquaponics. Using these experiences and education, Vance has been invited to give talks around the world to more than 50,000 people in locations including New York City, London, San Francisco, Atlanta and farming communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Vance lives in Saint Louis with his wife Annie and dog Tiamat (pronounced Tie-eh-mat). Connect with Vance on twitter @VanceCrowe

NC State Speakers

Dr. Rongda Qu

Turfgrass Molecular Biology
Crop and Soil Sciences
NC State University

Dr. Rongda Qu is a Professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, North Carolina State University. He also serves as an Associate Faculty in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. He uses biotechnology approaches to transform turfgrasses for improved resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Dr. Qu received his Ph.D. from University of South Carolina on Plant Cell and Molecular Biology. Before coming to NC State, he did postdoctoral research on genetic transformation of cereal crops at Washington University at St. Louis and at the Scripps Research Institute, and then served as a Research Assistant Professor at Montana State University. In his career at NCSU, Dr. Qu published over 40 peer-reviewed research papers, filed more than 20 invention disclosures, and was awarded two U.S. invention patents. Dr. Qu also co-teaches a class about applications of molecular biology on plant breeding, and supervises researches performed by graduate students, postdocs, and visiting scholars. Dr. Qu closely interacts with turfgrass industry, and performs research upon their requests and receives their support. In research projects collaborative with colleagues, his lab developed protocols for turfgrass transformation, and introduced genes from various sources for resistance to gray leaf spot and brown patch diseases and for tolerance to drought.  
Dr. Charles Peacock

Turfgrass Fertility & Stress Physiology Crop and Soil Sciences
NC State University

Dr. Peacock has expertise in the area of turfgrass nutrition and stress physiology, fertilizer technology and soils interactions, and environmental quality.  He has been involved in helping golf courses be more sustainable in their development and implementation of Best Management Practices and Integrated Pest Management and in protecting environmental quality. He has consulted on agronomic issues on several hundred golf courses internationally. He has published numerous research and popular articles in turfgrass management and given over 500 presentations at conferences, workshops and seminars around the world. He is a Professor of Crop Science specializing in Turfgrass Management at North Carolina State University.
Lee Butler

Manager, Turfgrass Diagnostics Lab
Entomology and Plant Pathology
NC State University

Lee Butler is an extension coordinator in the department of Entomology & Plant Pathology at N.C. State University.  He received an M.S. degree in Plant Pathology and a B.S. degree in Agronomy from N.C. State University. Lee currently manages the NC State Turfgrass Diagnostics Lab while remaining active in the turf pathology field research program, both housed within Dr. Jim Kerns’ lab. This allows him to work with turfgrass managers to develop effective disease management plans based on his knowledge of current disease activity and observations made in fungicide efficacy trials. Lee also guest lectures in the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Natural Resources at NC State in addition to speaking at grower meetings and extension conferences throughout North Carolina and the United States.
Ray McCauley

PhD Candidate
Turfgrass Management
NC State University

Ray McCauley is a Ph.D student under Dr. Grady Miller. He originally hails from Stateburg, SC, and completed his BS and MS in Turfgrass Management at Clemson University.  He joined Dr. Miller’s program in 2016 after spending seven years in the sports turf industry.  His research has concentrated on fraise mowing bermudagrass with an emphasis on its effects on soil physical properties.
Jessica Brown

MS student
Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics
NCState University

Jessica is originally from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2017 with a double BS in Genetics and in Plant Biology. Jessica began her MS in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at NC State in fall 2017 focusing on the physiological and genetic components of freeze tolerance in zoysiagrass. Her projects include: 1) validation of quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with freeze tolerance, and 2) analysis of differentially expressed freeze-associated proteins.
Allison Anthony

PhD student
Turfgrass Pathology
NC State University

Allison grew up in the small town of Climax, North Carolina. She completed her undergraduate studies in biology at East Carolina University where her interests in botany and population genetics led to her discovery of the field of plant pathology. After graduating, Allison came to NCSU to pursue her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology in Dr. Jim Kerns’ lab, focusing on population dynamics of fungi in turfgrass. Her current research is on the causal agent of the dollar spot disease in creeping bentgrass, Calrireedia jacksonii, looking at the practical uses of population genetics on disease management.
Laney McKnight

PhD Student
Pesticide Fate and Behavior
NC State University

From Concord, North Carolina, Laney spent most of her free time roaming natural landscapes and enjoying outdoor activities which led her to a passion in environmental science.  She began her college career at UNCW to study Environmental Geology and soon transferred to North Carolina State University to pursue a degree in Biology with a concentration in Ecology.  After working in Travis Gannon’s lab for four years, she decided this was the change in the world she wanted to see.  From playing rugby on a recreational field to throwing a tennis ball for her dog in their yard, Laney understands the importance of turf systems and their sustainability.  Laney’s thesis targets wetland construction to create a more responsible use of pesticides to promote turf quality, as well as reducing possible contamination of aquatic environments.