SLU news

Vahideh Rafiei receives royal award for research on biocontrol of cereal diseases

Published: 12 June 2024
A man hand a woman shakes hand in a library. Photo.

Vahideh Rafiei has been awarded a prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf's 50-year fund for science, technology and the environment, for her work on biological control of Fusarium species that cause fusarium diseases on cereals. Vahideh received the prize from the hands of King Carl XVI Gustaf, including a scholarship of 100 000 SEK, at a ceremony on June 10 at the Royal Castle in Stockholm.

Vahideh’s research is focused on understanding fungal diseases on cereal to protect the crops and increase food safety. Vahideh is currently a researcher at the Department of Forest Mycology and Plant Pathology at SLU.

– The core of my research is dedicated to unravelling the complexities surrounding Fusarium head blight species, especially the Fusarium graminearum species complex, which is one of the most critical threats to cereal crops worldwide. With this award I will investigate the mechanisms behind the disease and how the host and the pathogen interact on a molecular level, says Vahide.

Magnus Karlsson is professor in plant pathology and a close colleague to Vahideh.

– I am proud of Vahideh for her outstanding contributions to our research team and her unwavering dedication to the field of plant pathology. Vahideh's expertise and commitment have significantly enhanced our understanding of plant-fungal interactions. Her ability to seamlessly integrate advanced molecular techniques with practical fieldwork has been invaluable to our projects. Vahideh is not only an exceptional scientist but also a fantastic collaborator and mentor to her colleagues, says Magnus.


Vahideh Rafiei began her career with doctoral studies at Cornell University, USA and Shiraz University, Iran, where she gained her skills in population genetic analyses of fungal pathogens. In Iran, Vahideh had a tenure as an Assistant Professor at the Plant Protection Research Department, AREEO. This was followed by postdoctoral work at SLU in 2020. Here, she gained extensive experience in fieldwork, sampling, and the molecular identification of fungal isolates, studying both theoretical and applied aspects of plant pathology. Vahideh has received funding from for example FORMAS, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Royal Swedish Agricultural Academy (KSLA) and the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST).