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Field Crop Disease Epidemiology

Dr. Paul Esker, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Field Crop Pathology, seeks students interested in working in plant disease epidemiology on research related to improving field crop and small grain production.
Dr. Paul Esker | Image: Michael Houtz, Penn State

Dr. Paul Esker | Image: Michael Houtz, Penn State

The Esker Lab is looking for motivated students interested in working in plant disease epidemiology on research related to improving field crop and small grain production. The lab is focused on applying mixed technologies and methods to improve our understanding of plant pathogen and disease dynamics as they relate to best management practices, decision-making and impact assessment for growers.

Our projects focus on applying novel biological, ecological and statistical methods, with specific focus on using grower production practices and fields whenever possible. The Esker lab maintains many active collaborations, including multiple international collaborations related to crop loss and risk assessment.

Possible thesis research areas include:

  1. Using the iPIPE platform and advanced data collection technologies for risk prediction and data collection to evaluate, validate and quantify the best management practices for field crop production at different scales;
  2. Quantifying the impact of seed treatments on the soil microbiome to more effectively quantify the cost-benefit of this technology;
  3. Understanding the risk and impact of applying foliar fungicides on field crops and small grains, including how fungicides impact the microbial community that exists on a leaf surface.

Contact Information

Paul D. Esker, Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Field Crop Pathology
Email:
Phone: 814-865-0680