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Two Caldwell Fellows Alumni Receive FMC New Investigator Award

Dr. Sidney Wilkerson-Hill (`10) and Dr. Alyssa Koehler (`12 & `15) were awarded to further their research in agriculture.

Dr. Sidney Wilkerson-Hill (left) and Dr. Alyssa Koehler (right).
Photo credits: UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Delaware.

In an exciting announcement today, FMC Corporation unveiled the distinguished recipients of the 2024 FMC New Investigator Award. FMC is a leading Agricultural Sciences Company dedicated exclusively to crop protection chemistry and its delivery. FMC has helped protect growers’ fields and yields for over 135 years. FMC was founded in 1883 as the Bean Spray Pump Company by John Bean, who developed the first piston-pump insecticide sprayer. This prestigious accolade celebrates the remarkable achievements of early career professors whose work significantly influences scientific domains aligned with FMC’s research initiatives. Carefully chosen by a diverse committee of scientists from FMC’s R&D organization, each recipient will be bestowed with an unrestricted $50,000 research grant to further their groundbreaking work.

Dr. Seva Rostovtsev, the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at FMC, emphasized the importance of the program in its fourth year. “The FMC New Investigator Awards propel science and research towards tomorrow’s breakthroughs,” he stated. “This initiative opens up exciting opportunities for pursuing innovative approaches to address challenges in agriculture.”

Two distinguished winners of the 2024 FMC New Investigator Award are Caldwell Fellows alumni – Dr. Sidney Wilkerson-Hill from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Dr. Alyssa Koehler from the University of Delaware. They were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the discipline of agricultural sciences.

Dr. Sidney Wilkerson-Hill’s Research Focus:

Dr. Wilkerson-Hill’s research centers on developing novel reactions for obtaining pyrethroids, small molecules crucial in combating vectors for diseases such as malaria. His research emphasizes identifying new pyrethroids with enhanced photostability, reduced off-target toxicological properties towards beneficial pollinators and reduced insect resistance profiles.

Dr. Wilkerson-Hill’s research group is pioneering new pathways to orphaned cyclopropanes—a structural motif prevalent in many pyrethroids to achieve these ambitious goals. Their innovative approach involves the development of methods to utilize non-stabilized carbene intermediates.

Winner: Dr. Alyssa Koehler, University of Delaware – Plant Pathology

Dr. Alyssa Koehler from the University of Delaware has been honored for her outstanding contributions to plant pathology, adding to the roster of distinguished awardees. Dr. Koehler’s extension plant pathology lab is a pioneering force, bridging molecular and applied research to enhance agricultural sustainability and crop production in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Her comprehensive research encompasses pathogen identification, molecular quantification, and field evaluations of chemical, biological, and cultural management strategies for diseases impacting various crops. Beyond her research endeavors, Dr. Koehler actively shares best management approaches through extension education. Her leadership extends to serving as President of the American Phytopathological Society Potomac Division and MGMT Area Vice-Chair with the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative.

This recognition underscores Dr. Wilkerson-Hill’s and Dr. Koehler’s commitment to advancing scientific frontiers and addressing critical challenges in agriculture. The FMC New Investigator Award applauds their achievements and provides the necessary support to propel their research to new heights.

As we eagerly anticipate the outcomes of Dr. Wilkerson-Hill and Dr. Koehler’s groundbreaking work, the FMC New Investigator Awards continue to foster innovation and drive scientific progress aligning with FMC’s mission.

*This article is a condensed version of the formal announcement from FMC’s website found at,Dr.,in%20the%20Mid%2DAtlantic%20region.

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