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 301-313-9340
Franco Acevedo-Lugo M.S. Student
Max Aleman Ph.D. Student
Muhammad Ali Visiting Scholar
Anahi Anaya B.S. Student
John Ayers, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Paul A. Backman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus 251-622-3235
Ananda Y. Bandara, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar 814-865-7448
Constanza Bartolomeo Koninckx M.S. Student
Terrence H. Bell, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Phytobiomes 814-865-9653
David Meigs Beyer, Ph.D. Professor of Mushrooms 814-863-7059
Shaheen Bibi, Ph.D. Research Technologist 814-865-7448
Molly Biver B.S. Student
Matt Black Marketing Communications Specialist 814-867-0198
William Boone Farm Manager 814-692-8696
Mark A. Boudreau, Ph.D. Courtesy Faculty Member 610-892-1268
Evan Buckner Ph.D. Student
Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D. Department Head, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology 814-865-7448
Christina Fox Call, Ph.D. Assistant Professor 814-863-4292
Lily Cao Graduate Student
Johanny Castro Chinchilla Ph.D. Student
Cameron Cedeno B.S. Student
Barbara Christ, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Alyssa Collins, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor 717-653-4728
Arabella (Bell) Confer Financial Assistant 814-863-2998
Cole Connolly Undergraduate Student
Amy Corbett Administrative Assistant to the Department Head 814-865-7448
Lindsay Coulter M.S. Student
Sharifa Crandall Assistant Professor of Soilborne Disease Dynamics and Management
Uma Crouch M.S. Student
Mladen Cucak Postdoctoral Scholar 814-863-4798
Felipe Dalla Lana Postdoctoral Scholar 330-461-6634
Donald D. Davis, Ph.D. Professor 814-865-1689
Matthew Davis Wage Staff
Mauricio De La Parra Gurr B.S. Student
Miranda DePriest Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology
Isako Di Tomassi Research Assistant - Pecchia Lab 8148632065
Jennie Diehl Mazzone Research Technologist and Assistant Diagnostician 814-863-0565
Liina Eek Research Technologist
Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu Ph.D. Candidate
Paul D. Esker, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Field Crop Pathology 814-865-0680
Chad Fautt Ph.D. Candidate, Ecology
William Fescemyer Research Technologist
Nicholas Gabel M.S. Student
Raymond García-Rodríguez, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar 814-865-7448
David M. Geiser, Ph.D. Professor of Mycology 814-865-9773
Frederick E. Gildow, Jr., Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Maria Gorgo-Gourovitch, B.S., M.S. Extension Educator - Horticulture Team 484-335-2091
Beth K. Gugino, Ph.D. Professor of Vegetable Pathology 814-865-7328
Xiangrong (Ryan) Guo M.S. Student
John Halbrendt, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Emeritus
Bryan Hed Research Technologist 814-725-4601
Jeremy Held Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Biology
Rachel Herschlag Ph.D. Student
Chauncy Hinshaw Ph.D. Candidate 814-863-4211
Winand Hock, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Kevin L. Hockett, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Microbial Ecology 814-865-4472
Scott A. Isard, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus 814-865-6290
Md Tariqul Islam Ph.D. Candidate 814-863-4211
María del Mar Jiménez Gasco, Ph.D. Professor of Plant Pathology 814-863-2355
Edward Kaiser Research Technologist 814-863-2168
Laura Kaminsky Ph.D. Student
Prem P. Kandel, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar 814-863-3073
Seogchan Kang, Ph.D. Professor 814-863-3846
Suraj Kar Postdoctoral Scholar, Plant Science 814-865-9373
Mariah Kidd Graduate Student
Seong Hwan Kim, Ph.D. Adjunct Associate Professor Retiree
William King Postdoctoral Scholar 814-865-7448
Swathi Kothattil Ph.D. Student
Kenan Ku B.S. Student
Crosley Kudla-Williams M.S. Student
Gretchen A. Kuldau, Ph.D. Associate Professor 814-863-7232
Eric Larson Postdoctoral Scholar
Elisa Lauritzen Ph.D. Candidate
Brian L. Lehman Research Technologist 717-677-6116
Karen Luong Ph.D. Student
Jeremy Maggio B.S. Student
Luke May Part-Time Research Associate
Sara May, Ph.D. Coordinator, Plant Disease Clinic 814-865-2204
Tyler McFeaters M.S. Student
Chyanna McGee M.S. Student
Janice McMahon Building Coordinator 814-865-3236
Timothy W. McNellis, Ph.D. Associate Professor 814-863-7646
Melissa E. Mercado M.S. Student 814-863-4878
Andrew Miles M.S. Student, Plant Biology
Avalon Miller Ph.D. Student
Dean Miller Part-Time Research Assistant
Melanie Miller Foster Associate Teaching Professor of International Agriculture 814-867-3831
Gary W. Moorman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Izzy Mowery B.S. Student
Ram Neupane Ph.D. Student
Chelsea Newbold Ph.D. Student
Sean O'Rourke-Ibach Research Technologist
Kimberly Paley Research Technologist 814-863-4967
Michelle Paukett Ph.D. Candidate, Penn State University
John A. Pecchia, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor 814-865-1008
Michael Peck Research Technologist 814-692-8696
Eva Joy Pell, Ph.D. Senior Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School, Emerita
Kari A. Peter, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor, Tree Fruit Pathology 717-677-6116 x223
Justin S. Pita, Ph.D. Adjunct Assistant Professor,
Xinshun Qu, Ph.D. Associate Research Professor 814-867-4928
Sarah Richards Ph.D. Student, Ecology
Rachel Richardson Ph.D. Student
Marilyn J. Roossinck, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Cristina Rosa, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Plant Virology 814-867-5372
Emma Rosenthal Ph.D. Candidate 814-863-5740
Daniel J. Royse, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus 814-308-2800
Lee Schisler, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Carl Schlagnhaufer, Ph.D. Lab Research Technician 814-863-2065
Justin Shih Ph.D. Student 814-867-0300
Olanrewaju Shittu Ph.D. Student
Maura Siess B.S. Student
Judith P. Sinn Assistant Research Professor 814-863-7399
Mary Smith Ph.D. Candidate
Ryan Spelman M.S. Student
Jamie Spychalla Ph.D. Student
Elwin Stewart, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Emma Stockham B.S. Student
Jeremy Sutherland Ph.D. Student, Bioinformatics & Genomics
Terry J Torres-Cruz Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Pathology and Biogeochemistry
T.A. Toussoun, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
James Travis, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus
Ryan V. Trexler Graduate Student
Wakar Uddin, Ph.D. Professor 814-777-4498
Alexander Varaksa M.S. Student
Vedha Viddam B.S. Student
Fabrício Rocha Vieira, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar 814-863-2065
Chad Vosburg Research Technologist
Emma Wallace Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Pathology and International Agriculture and Development
Qin Wang Research Support Technician 814-867-0300
Dilooshi Weerasooriya Postdoctoral Scholar 814-863-4798
Cullen Wilson B.S. Student
Brenda Wingfield, Ph.D. Adjunct Full Professor,
Weiya Xue, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar 814-863-7061
Yinong Yang, Ph.D. Professor 814-867-0324
Caylon Yates Ph.D. Candidate
Diane Yoder Administrative Support Coordinator and Office Manager 814-863-7065