Genna Tesdall

  • M.S. Student
  • Plant Pathology, International Agriculture and Development
  • Advised by: Dr. María del Mar Jiménez Gasco
  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • International Programs Office Graduate Assistant
Genna Tesdall
301 Buckhout Lab (office)
403 Buckhout Lab (lab)

University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-2495
Fax: 814-863-7217

Areas of Expertise

  • Fusarium oxysporum
  • Plant pathology
  • International agriculture
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Organization leadership and management

Connect with Genna Tesdall



  1. B.S. Biology, Iowa State University (2015)
  2. B.S. Global Resource Systems, Iowa State University (2015)

Professional Interests

For my master thesis, I study the causal agent of Panama disease, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), a soil-borne fungal pathogen that causes vascular wilt of bananas. Banana is a staple food crop for South East Asia, Africa, and the Americas; as such, banana is a key crop to focus on yield increase and protection, especially in the face of Panama disease, which threatens livelihoods worldwide. To create sustainable solutions to Panama disease, scientists must understand the mechanism of pathogenicity. Using the gene-for-gene concept of host-pathogen interactions, scientists have searched for putative pathogenicity genes and their associated effector proteins. The F. oxysporum species complex is known to cause disease to over 100 hosts, and F. oxysproum f. sp. lycopercisi (Fol) has been used as a model system for the discovery of Secreted In Xylem (SIX) genes. After being found in Fol, sequences homologous to Fol SIX genes were detected in other formae speciales, including Foc. However, SIX genes have been detected in non-pathogenic isolates from soil and asymptomatic plants. This leads us to my research on the true role of SIX genes in F. oxysporum-plant interactions.  In this research, I am interested in the role of SIX9 in host pathogenicity and colonization based on the presence of SIX9 in pathogenic, endophytic, and soil isolates. 

Complimentary to research, I am fascinated the global agricultural system. I am passionate about bridging the gap between science, public, and policy, and I am always interested in improving agricultural organizations to use science as a tool for improving livelihoods. After graduation from Penn State, I will serve as Fulbright Research Fellow at the Humboldt University of Berlin. 

Before my master study, I gained experience in research at Iowa State University, the CGIAR International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru, and the USDA North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station. I have international experience from my time as World President of the NGO International Association of Agriculture and Related Sciences Students (IAAS), interning and working at CIP, and studying at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.

Grants and Awards

  • Fulbright U.S. Student Research Fellow. The Humboldt University of Berlin. 2018-2019.
  • Association for International Agriculture and Development (AIARD) Future Leaders Forum. 2018.
  • Library sequence data generation and curation grant. Department of Plant Pathology and International Agriculture and Development. The Pennsylvania State University. 2018.
  • Popp Award. The Pennsylvania State University. 2017.
  • International Travel Award. Office of International Agriculture Programs. 2016.
  • International Agriculture and Development Graduate International Research Competitive Grant. The Pennsylvania State University. 2016.
  • European Commission ERASMUS+ Civil Society Cooperation: Youth. 2015.
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Graduate Scholarship Awardee. 2015.
  • Udall Scholarship Honorable Mention. 2014.
  • European Commission Action 4.1. 2013.


  • Tesdall G, Magdama F, Jimenez Gasco M. 2017. Towards sustainable solutions for Fusarium wilt: Ecology of putative pathogenicity factors in populations of Fusarium oxysporum from banana. 2017 APS Annual Meeting.
  • Tesdall G. The Hidden Beauty of Ugly Food. 2016. Washington, D.C. SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction. 
  • Kreyssig, A., Kim, M., Kim, J., Pratt, D., Sauerbrei, S., & March, S. et al. 2011. Magnetic order in GdBiPt studied by x-ray resonant magnetic scattering. Phys. Rev. B, 84(22). 


  • President. International Agriculture and Development Graduate Student Association. The Pennsylvania State University. 2017-2018.
  • Treasurer. Center for Sustainability Community Garden. The Pennsylvania State University. 2016-2018.
  • Professional Development Committee Member. Department Plant Pathology and Env. Microbiology. The Pennsylvania State University. 2017-2018.
  • Vice-President. Plant Pathology Association. The Pennsylvania State University. 2016-2017.