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Merrill Protégé McCreight Visits PPEM

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Posted: June 24, 2016

Former mentee of Bill Merrill and former supervisor of Carolee Bull, Penn State alumnus and USDA ARS-Salinas Research Leader Jim McCreight visits PPEM.
Dr. Jim McCreight | Image: Carolee Bull, Penn State University

Dr. Jim McCreight | Image: Carolee Bull, Penn State University

Dr. James D. McCreight visited with members of the Dept. of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology (PPEM) on Friday, June 24, and shared some of his Penn State history with students and faculty.  Dr. McCreight was a horticulture student from 1967-1971 and worked in Buckhout Lab on canker of black birch during spring quarter 1971 with Dr. William Merrill, Jr. (1933 -2003), who served on the faculty from 1965 until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1999.

Dr. McCreight's lab experience capped his year-long initial training in plant pathology, beginning with Dr. Merrill's introductory plant pathology class during fall 1970, Dr. James Bloom's plant pathology techniques class in winter 1971, and the independent study class with Dr. Merrill in spring 1971 that focused on isolation of the pathogen responsible for canker of black birch.  Dr. McCreight said, "The project began with a foray to a state forest to find cankered trees. We rode in a Pepto-Bismol-pink Jeep Wagoneer that Drs. Merrill and F.A. Wood shared; Dr. Wood was color blind, and it looked bright red to him. My isolations yielded a non-pathogenic Fusarium, as I recall."

When asked what he would like Penn State students to know, Dr. McCreight said, "Recognize, seize, and create opportunities that capture your academic interests, whether or not in your major. Get to know the faculty in your major.  Those relationships will take you unexpected places."

McCreight's research career, galvanized under Dr. Merrill's influence, has largely focused on host plant resistance to fungal and viral pathogens and insects.  After earning his B.S. Horticulture from Penn State in 1971, he earned his M.S. Plant Science from the University of Connecticut in 1974 and his Ph.D. Horticultural Science from North Carolina State University in 1977.

Dr. McCreight has served with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) since 1977 primarily in Salinas, CA, where he had the opportunity to supervise PPEM Dept. Head Dr. Carolee Bull. In 2013 Dr. McCreight was elected Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS).

Additional information about Dr. McCreight's extensive service, research, and travels can be found on p. 29 of the 2013 ASHS conference program.

Contact Information

Jim McCreight
  • USDA-ARS Location Coordinator & Research Leader