Content from the December 2017 SporePrints e-newsletter.

Welcome from Carolee

As we come to the end of another calendar year, I'm reflecting on the achievements of individuals in our department. The grants, awards, and accomplishments of our faculty, staff, and students build the stature and reputation of our department and make my job as the departmental spokesperson really easy. Add to those accomplishments our new faculty, Drs. Bell, Esker, and Hockett, and I can unequivocally say that this year put our department on an upward trajectory that will fuel our success for the coming years.

In 2017 PPEM faculty received two new federal million-dollar grants that will grow our programs and advance our mission. One was an NSF grant to synthesize the taxonomy for species of the genus Fusarium, and the second a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant to develop a suite of organic management options for three of the most challenging mushroom pests. This was topped off by an investment by the College of Agricultural Sciences to fund four faculty, including two of our newest faculty, for "Graduate training in the exploration and manipulation of agricultural microbiomes for food productivity, quality, safety, and human health (mBiome)." It is anticipated that funding from these and other funded projects will increase the size, trajectory, and impact of our graduate and research programs.

Our graduate students are also reaching for the stars. This year students won the coveted National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) fellowship (the first in departmental history as far as anyone here remembers) and a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant. We had winners of the Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Award, College of Agricultural Sciences Graduate Student Competitive Grants Program, American Phytopathological Society (APS) Travel Awards, and a NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship.

Our students are clearly spurred on to achieve by the success of our faculty and our alumni. We were all pleased by the well-deserved election of Dr. Seogchan Kang as a Fellow of APS this year. Dr. David Beyer's service to the mushroom industry was recognized with the Extension Excellence Award from Gamma Sigma Delta. This year we also got more proof that our alumni are outstanding! Dr. Kira Bowen was given the College of Ag Outstanding Alumni Award. When I talk about Kira, I always tell the graduate students to invest in the undergraduates they work with because they just might grow up to be President of APS someday.

Our current initiatives are allowing us to lead in the college and university while building the platform for further growth and success in the department. Departmental visibility is extremely high due to the significant role PPEM faculty play in the Penn State Microbiome Center. This effort is attracting funding and attention well beyond Penn State. Likewise, our bilateral initiative with the University of Pretoria in South Africa soared this year with three long-term visitors and three additional visits to help plan further exchanges.

If you want to be a part of this upward momentum and are thinking about investing in the department, now you can double your money through a variety of mechanisms. If you send a donation directly to the department with no specific use or to the Foundations for Leadership and Innovation Endowment in Plant Pathology, your donation will be matched. If you set up a new endowment at the $50,000+ level, the university will provide a $50,000 match, and you can specify that this is for a student minoring in Plant Pathology or Mushroom Science. A new graduate scholarship matching program has been established so that a $125,000 minimum donation will be matched by the university. This would directly allow us to invite more graduate students into our program. Please contact me or visit our website if you have any questions about the types of programs that are available to make your donation go further.

Carolee T. Bull
Head | Professor
Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology


Latest News

  1. Graduate Assistantships Now Available for Fall 2018
  2. Özber Awarded CAS Graduate Student Competitive Grant
  3. Stephens Recognized for Outstanding Leadership by Penn State Ag Council
  4. Interdisciplinary Graduate Assistantships Funding Awarded
  5. College of Agricultural Sciences Department Head Honored by Alma Mater
  6. Kira Bowen Given College of Ag Outstanding Alumni Award
  7. Tree-of-Heaven's Prolific Seed Production Adds to Invasive Potential
  8. Bell Awarded Teaching Transformation and Innovation Grant
  9. Research Center Completes Potato Building Upgrades
  10. Agricultural Research Center Site of Cutting-Edge Research


Contact Information

Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D.
  • Professor of Bacterial Systematics and Plant Pathology, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology

Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology


211 Buckhout Lab
University Park, PA 16802