Penn State Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology is a tight-knit community of faculty, staff, and students united by our passion for exploring microorganisms and improving health and sustainability. We work to advance the science of plant diseases, understand infection processes and the mechanisms of disease and host resistance, and identify environmental and nutritional factors influencing plant health.

Why Study Plant Pathology

One of the major goals of plant pathology is to support growth of healthy plants, whether as individual landscaping plants to beautify our living spaces, as fields of crop plants to sustain our food supply, or as regional populations of plants, such as forests, to maintain an inhabitable ecosystem. The value of plant pathology to human society, the importance of research on plant disease, and the need for training future plant pathologists is explained in the video "Plant Pathology: Taking You Further Than You Ever Imagined" from the American Phytopathological Society.

What Is Plant Pathology

The discipline of plant pathology involves the study of all the biotic and abiotic causes of plant diseases, including pathogen biology and evolution; understanding infection processes, mechanisms of disease and host resistance; and identifying environmental and nutritional factors influencing plant health. Results of this research are applied to developing management strategies to ensure adequate food and fiber production and to better understand and stabilize natural ecosystems to maintain a healthy and sustainable environment.

History of Plant Pathology at Penn State

Plant pathology has a long tradition at Penn State University as one of the first of seven undergraduate majors described in the College of Agriculture in 1908. In 1913 the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology was formed and the first graduate degree in plant pathology was awarded in 1915. Botany and plant pathology parted ways amicably in 1963 with the formation of the new Department of Plant Pathology with Dr. James Tammen as the first department head. Recently, the faculty elected to broaden the focus of the department to include environmental microbiology, a discipline closely associated with plant pathology concepts and encompassing the research disciplines of many faculty. The year 2013 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the department and its first year with the new name of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology.

Mission of the Department

The mission of the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology is to engage in quality research, education, and outreach in plant pathology, mushroom science, and environmental microbiology with emphasis on the understanding of relationships among microbes, their hosts, and the environment, and on the management of diseases and other threats impacting agricultural and natural ecosystems, food safety, and human and environmental health. Our faculty is focused on professional priorities for innovative research, excellence in mentoring of students, and productivity in scholarship and outreach service to society. We strive for the highest commitments to creativity, honesty, and mutual respect.

Educational Programs

Our educational programs prepare undergraduate and graduate students for diverse careers in academia, industry, and government. Our faculty is associated with teaching and advising for the undergraduate Plant Science major with options in Agroecology , Horticulture , and Plant Science , and advise undergraduate minor degree programs in Mushroom Science and Plant Pathology. Our Ph.D. program in Plant Pathology was highly ranked nationally among plant science programs by the National Research Council in 2010 and is one of the top graduate plant pathology programs in the country with an international reputation. We offer the M.S. degree and the Ph.D. degree in Plant Pathology based on research in a wide range of subdisciplines, as well as faculty mentoring for degree opportunities in interdisciplinary majors including Bioinformatics and Genomics, Ecology, Genetics, and Plant Biology.

Research Programs

Research programs focus on a wide range of subdisciplines covering diverse areas of plant pathology, environmental microbiology, and microbial ecology. Many basic research and applied research programs are linked to translational programs bringing results to real world applications through Extension programming. Research programs are typically interdisciplinary with faculty from diverse disciplines in the Colleges of Agriculture, Engineering, and Science. Interdisciplinary research also is supported through joint faculty hires with the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, the Environment and Natural Resources Institute, and the College of Science. Outstanding world class research facilities associated with the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology include the Fusarium Research Center , the PPEM Growth Chamber Facility, the Mushroom Research Center , the Fruit Research and Extension Center , the Erie Grape Research Station , the Russell E. Larsen Agricultural Research Farm , the Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center , and the PPEM Plant Disease Clinic .

Extension Programs

Faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology contribute significantly to Extension and Outreach programming that translates research results into practical applications supporting agriculture, forestry, and horticulture industries in Pennsylvania and nationally. Applied research programs linked to industry are especially focused on problems involving mushrooms, potatoes, tree fruits, grapes, forest and landscaping trees, vegetable crops, ornamentals, and turf grass. The department has the first and one of the largest mushroom research programs in the world. Additional applied programming is related to mycotoxin production and building safety, fungal infections and human health, protein immunogen production, environmental monitoring, and air pollution.

If you are interested in additional information, do not hesitate to contact me. Additional research and extension program information can also be obtained through individual faculty research pages.

Carolee T. Bull , Department Head

Name Title Email Phone
Z. Gloria Abad, Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor, Senior Plant Pathologist, Lead Scientist, USDA-APHIS-PPQ Gloria.Abad@aphis.usda.gov 301-313-9340
Max Aleman Ph.D. Student mga55@psu.edu
Annalisa Ariatti Research Support Staff aua15@psu.edu 814-865-7837
John Ayers, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus jea@psu.edu
Paul A. Backman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus pab24@psu.edu 251-622-3235
Ananda Y. Bandara, PhD Postdoctoral Scholar axb1739@psu.edu 814-865-7448
Constanza Bartolomeo Koninckx M.S. Student cqb5864@psu.edu
Edelio Rivera Bazán M.S. Student ekb5276@psu.edu
Terrence H. Bell, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Phytobiomes thb15@psu.edu 814-865-9653
David Meigs Beyer, Ph.D. Professor of Mushrooms dmb8@psu.edu 814-863-7059
Matt Black Marketing Communications Specialist mblack@psu.edu 814-867-0198
Marilyn Annette Bonham M.S. Student mab1314@psu.edu
William Boone Farm Manager web17@psu.edu 814-692-8696
Mark A. Boudreau, Ph.D. Courtesy Faculty Member mab90@psu.edu 610-892-1268
Lindsay Boyd M.S. Student lnb5182@psu.edu
Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D. Department Head, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology ctb14@psu.edu 814-865-7448
Christina Fox Call, Ph.D. Assistant Professor cfc74@psu.edu 814-863-4292
Johanny Castro Chinchilla Ph.D. Student jgc96@psu.edu
Cameron Cedeno B.S. Student cjc315@psu.edu
Barbara Christ, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus ebf@psu.edu
Herbert Cole, Jr., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus hxc1@psu.edu
Alyssa Collins, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor aac18@psu.edu 717-653-4728
Arabella (Bell) Confer Financial Assistant avc11@psu.edu 814-863-2998
Amy Corbett Administrative Assistant to the Department Head auh243@psu.edu 814-865-7448
Sharifa Crandall Assistant Professor of Soilborne Disease Dynamics and Management sgcrandall@psu.edu
Uma Crouch M.S. Student utc5003@psu.edu
Felipe Dalla Lana Postdoctoral Scholar felipedallalana@psu.edu 3304616634
Donald D. Davis, Ph.D. Professor ddd2@psu.edu 814-865-1689
Mauricio De La Parra Gurr B.S. Student mmd5713@psu.edu
Miranda DePriest Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology mnd20@psu.edu
Jennie Diehl Mazzone Research Technologist and Assistant Diagnostician jrd5407@psu.edu 814-863-0565
Maíra Duffeck Visiting Ph.D. Student mrd5754@psu.edu
Abdelmonim A. Ahmad Ebrahim, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar aae5272@psu.edu 814-865-7448
Liina Eek Research Technologist lbe5120@psu.edu
Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu Ph.D. Candidate hze5@psu.edu
Paul D. Esker, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Field Crop Pathology pde6@psu.edu 814-865-0680
Chad Fautt Ph.D. Candidate, Ecology cwf30@psu.edu
Kristi Fenstermacher Ph.D. Candidate kaf326@psu.edu
William Fescemyer Research Technologist wxf144@psu.edu
Reid D. Frederick, Ph.D. Adjunct Associate Professor, Research Molecular Biologist, USDA/ARS reid.frederick@ars.usda.gov 301-619-7386
David M. Geiser, Ph.D. Professor of Mycology dmg17@psu.edu 814-865-9773
Frederick E. Gildow, Jr., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus feg2@psu.edu
Yuliya "Julie" Golod Project Assistant yjg1@psu.edu
Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, B.S., M.S. Affiliate Instructor - Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, College of Agricultural Sciences, Penn State University mag38@psu.edu 610-696-3500
Emily Grandinette Research Technologist emg5491@psu.edu
Beth K. Gugino, Ph.D. Professor of Vegetable Pathology bkgugino@psu.edu 814-865-7328
Xiangrong (Ryan) Guo M.S. Student xxg5050@psu.edu
Meena Gurung Ph.D. Student mfg5666@psu.edu
Laine Marie Hackenberg B.S. Student lmh71@psu.edu
John Halbrendt, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Emeritus jmh23@psu.edu
Bryan Hed Research Technologist bxh38@psu.edu 814-725-4601
Jeremy Held Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Biology jbh249@psu.edu
Rachel Herschlag Ph.D. Student rzh5313@psu.edu
Chauncy Hinshaw Ph.D. Candidate crh54@psu.edu 814-863-4211
Winand Hock, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus wkh1@psu.edu
Kevin L. Hockett, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology klh450@psu.edu 814-865-4472
Vicki Hsieh-Feng Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Biology vrh5@psu.edu 814-867-0300
Scott A. Isard, Ph.D. Professor sai10@psu.edu 814-865-6290
Md Tariqul Islam Ph.D. Candidate mki5039@psu.edu 814-863-4211
María del Mar Jiménez Gasco, Ph.D. Associate Professor jimenez-gasco@psu.edu 814-863-2355
Sinyoung Jo B.S. Student smj5643@psu.edu
Edward Kaiser Research Technologist eqk3@psu.edu 814-863-2168
Laura Kaminsky Ph.D. Student lmk52@psu.edu
Prem Prasad Kandel, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar puk155@psu.edu 814-863-3073
Seogchan Kang, Ph.D. Professor sxk55@psu.edu 814-863-3846
Hassani Hussein Karemera M.S. Student hzk30@psu.edu 814-863-1932
Seong Hwan Kim, Ph.D. Adjunct Associate Professor Retiree skim@state.pa.us
William King Postdoctoral Scholar wlk5065@psu.edu 814-865-7448
Swathi Kothattil Ph.D. Student sqk6131@psu.edu
Crosley Kudla-Williams M.S. Student cpk5207@psu.edu
Gretchen A. Kuldau, Ph.D. Associate Professor kuldau@psu.edu 814-863-7232
Elisa Lauritzen Ph.D. Candidate jel412@psu.edu
Brian L. Lehman Research Technologist bll143@psu.edu 717-677-6116
Rhea Lumactud Postdoctoral Scholar rml5791@psu.edu 814-863-2074
Karen Luong M.S. Student kml6400@psu.edu
Jeremy Maggio B.S. Student jim5968@psu.edu
Maesun Mahmoud Part-Time Support mam7550@psu.edu
Phillip L Martin Ph.D. Student plm30@psu.edu 717-353-5365
Sara May, Ph.D. Coordinator, Plant Disease Clinic srm183@psu.edu 814-865-2204
Tyler McFeaters M.S. Student tsm31@psu.edu
Chyanna McGee M.S. Student ctm5370@psu.edu
Janice McMahon Building Coordinator jnm7@psu.edu 814-865-3236
Timothy W. McNellis, Ph.D. Associate Professor twm4@psu.edu 814-863-7646
Melissa E. Mercado M.S. Student mem6212@psu.edu 814-863-4878
Melanie Miller Foster Assistant Professor of International Agriculture mjm727@psu.edu 814-867-3831
Gary W. Moorman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus g1m@psu.edu
Izzy Mowery B.S. Student imm5187@psu.edu
Lissa Neese Administrative Support Assistant, Graduate Program lrn3@psu.edu 814-865-7069
Ram Neupane Ph.D. Student rcn5099@psu.edu
Kimberly Paley Research Technologist kpaley@psu.edu 814-863-4967
Michelle Paukett Ph.D. Candidate mrp354@psu.edu
John A. Pecchia, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor jap281@psu.edu 814-865-1008
Michael Peck Research Technologist mxp30@psu.edu 814-692-8696
Eva Joy Pell, Ph.D. Senior Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School, Emerita ejp@psu.edu
Kari A. Peter, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor, Tree Fruit Pathology kap22@psu.edu 717-677-6116
Justin S. Pita, Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor, pita.wave.ci@gmail.com
Xinshun Qu, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor xsq1@psu.edu 814-867-4928
Rachel Rathman B.S. Student rar5652@psu.edu
Sarah Richards Ph.D. Student, Ecology scr5400@psu.edu
Rachel Richardson M.S. Student rjr5856@psu.edu
Marilyn J. Roossinck, Ph.D. Professor, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, and Biology mjr25@psu.edu 814-865-2292
Cristina Rosa, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Plant Virology czr2@psu.edu 814-867-5372
Emma Rosenthal Ph.D. Student err5@psu.edu 814-863-5740
Daniel J. Royse, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus djr4@psu.edu 814-308-2800
Lee Schisler, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Carl Schlagnhaufer, Ph.D. Lab Research Technician cds3@psu.edu 814-863-2065
Helen Senerchia B.S. Student hks5357@psu.edu
Justin Shih Ph.D. Student jws52@psu.edu 814-867-0300
Olanrewaju Shittu Ph.D. Student oms5169@psu.edu
Judith P. Sinn Assistant Research Professor jps6@psu.edu 814-863-7399
Mary Smith Ph.D. Candidate mjs1282@psu.edu
Ryan Spelman M.S. Student rms6953@psu.edu
Jamie Spychalla Ph.D. Student jps7132@psu.edu
Elwin Stewart, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus els4@psu.edu
Emma Stockham B.S. Student eds5327@psu.edu
Jeremy Sutherland Ph.D. Student, Bioinformatics & Genomics jus1990@psu.edu
Terry J Torres-Cruz Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Pathology and Biogeochemistry tjt33@psu.edu
T.A. Toussoun, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
James Travis, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus jwt2@psu.edu
Wakar Uddin, Ph.D. Professor wxu2@psu.edu 814-777-4498
Alexander Varaksa M.S. Student aav5147@psu.edu
Fabrício Rocha Vieira, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar fur10@psu.edu 814-863-2065
Chad Vosburg M.S. Student cvv5156@psu.edu
Emma Wallace Ph.D. Candidate ecw25@psu.edu
Qin Wang Research Support Technician quw11@psu.edu 814-867-0300
Dilooshi Weerasooriya Postdoctoral Scholar wkw18@psu.edu 814-863-4798
Nancy G. Wenner Assistant Research Professor ngw1@psu.edu 814-865-0717
Brenda Wingfield, Ph.D. Adjunct Full Professor, Brenda.Wingfield@fabi.up.ac.za
Weiya Xue, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar wxx10@psu.edu 814-863-7061
Yinong Yang, Ph.D. Professor yuy3@psu.edu 814-867-0324
Caylon Yates Ph.D. Candidate czy125@psu.edu
Diane Yoder Administrative Support Coordinator and Office Manager dyoder@psu.edu 814-863-7065