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Elwin L. Stewart And Barbara J. Christ Plant Pathology Graduate Studies Enhancement Fund

The purpose of this fund shall be to provide general support to enhance graduate studies programs in the Department. Expenditures from this fund shall conform to existing University policy and include, but are not limited to: graduate student travel, awards, equipment purchases, computer hardware and/or software, etc.

Elwin L. Stewart

Dr. Stewart earned his Ph.D. in 1974 from Oregon State University and immediately began his professional career in academics as an assistant professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota. Elwin served on the faculty at Minnesota from 1975-1993 and became a recognized leader in mycology teaching and research during this time. In 1993, Elwin began his Penn State career as professor and head of the Department of Plant Pathology, a position he held for 9 years. Upon his arrival, Elwin managed improvements in the department in spite of severe budget cuts.  Eventually he was able to grow the department through the hiring of five of our current faculty members. He also oversaw the growth of graduate student endowments and was instrumental in the awarding of several million dollars worth of graduate education and research grants. During this time he also advised 6 graduate students on mycology research theses. After stepping down as department head in 2002, Elwin returned to teaching and initiated a research program on fungal diseases of grape, and eventually added responsibility for vineyard extension programming. 

Barbara J. Christ

Dr. Christ bleeds blue, roars like a lion, and has been a keystone for the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. She earned her bachelor’s degree in plant science at Penn State, a master’s degree in plant pathology at the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in botany and genetics from the University of British Columbia. In 1984, she returned to Penn State and joined the then Department of Plant Pathology; she has continued to serve the department and college ever since. 

From 1984 to 2005 she moved from assistant to full professor while running a vibrant research and extension program to breed and develop disease-resistant potato varieties. She was an energetic teacher even as she moved into college administration, first serving as the plant pathology department head in 2005 and then as senior associate dean of the college in 2009. From 2012 to 2014, she served as interim dean while continuing as the senior associate dean. During her phased retirement, she has served as special assistant to the dean.

Dr. Christ is a recognized leader regionally, nationally, and beyond; she distinguished herself through the prestigious American Phytopathological Society (APS)—serving as its president from 2008-2009— and through leadership in the Potato Association of America.