Abolfazl (Abi) Hajihassani received BS and MS degrees in Crop Protection and Plant Pathology (with a focus on Nematology) in Iran in 2004 and 2008, respectively and a PhD in Soil Science (major Nematology) from the University of Manitoba, Canada in August 2016. After immigrating to the United States, he worked for 7 months as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID.
Dr. Hajihassani joined the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia as an Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor in July 2017. He has Extension and Research responsibilities on plant-parasitic nematodes of vegetable crops. Georgia produces more than 30 different vegetable crops. The top 10 crops in terms of value of production include sweet corn, onions, bell peppers, watermelon, cucumber, tomato, carrot, cabbage, yellow squash and zucchini. Dr. Hajihassani’s work in vegetables doesn’t stop at the state’s border – he contributes to national and international Extension and outreach programs as well. Hajihassani coordinates yearly webinar programs for nematode management in vegetables. The first webinar was conducted in collaboration with the Southern IPM Center this past January with 5 key speakers from South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, and Georgia (Hajihassani). The webinar had 244 registrations and 138 people in attendance from 27 countries including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Indonesia, China, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Iran, Jorden, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.
Hajihassani’s current research focuses on the biology, histopathology, epidemiology and management of plant-parasitic nematodes of various vegetable crops. With the assistance of 27 local Extension agents, he determined the prevalence and abundance of plant-parasitic nematodes in South Georgia and their associations with vegetable production systems (bare ground vs. plasticulture) and geological/edaphic factors. He identified 5 species of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) as the most prevalent and yield-limiting nematode pests of vegetables in the state; thus, much of his research and programming centers on trying to manage this group of nematodes.
Hajihassani’s research group also studies various nematicides, cover/trap crops, resistant cultivars/rootstocks and microbial antagonists of nematodes as potential management approaches for nematode control in both conventional and organic production systems of vegetables. However, the primary interest is in the evaluation of the genetic diversity of root-knot nematodes. Dr. Hajihassani is also focused on the potential incidence of a destructive root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne enterolobii) in vegetables and other row crops in the state.
While working on his PhD, Hajihassani visited all Canadian provinces, and his long-term goal is to make it to all 50 states in the U.S. Playing volleyball is Hajihassani’s favorite sport and hobby.