Foundations for Leadership and Innovation Endowment in Plant Pathology

This community-built research endowment will allow the Dept. of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology to strategically meet changing educational needs.

Established as a community-built research endowment, the Foundations for Leadership and Innovation Endowment in Plant Pathology will allow the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology (PPEM) to become nimble in strategically meeting the changing educational needs of undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs.

The speed at which science evolves and methods of translation for students and producers is changing rapidly. PPEM faculty are poised to institute programming to ensure that their students and postdoctoral trainees are uniquely prepared for future leadership in academia, government, and industry. This endowment will fund initiatives to tactically educate faculty and students to lead the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State and their discipline as they move into the future. Specifically, the funds from this endowment will be used for initiatives to develop novel undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training and research programs to distinguish members of the department (students, postdocs, and faculty) from others. This endowment is not named for anyone because it is a legacy to all and a promise to keep up with the changing times.

Initiative Selection

The endowment will be used for strategic initiatives that will change as needed but last approximately three to five years each. The goals of the initial initiatives will be to:

  1. Develop communication, mentorship, and leadership skills within PPEM. Students with these essential skills and their top-tier scientific educations will be in demand and will be leaders in their careers in academia, industry, and government. Trained faculty and staff will model these skills to the students and use these skills to advance their effectiveness. Additionally, this formal training program will be used to recruit students, staff, and faculty to PPEM programs and distinguish them at the university and within their discipline. This initiative will include formal training in:
    1. Effective communication under difficult circumstances;
    2. Mentoring oneself, one's supervisor, and a diverse workforce;
    3. Academic leadership.
    After receiving training, students and postdocs will co-teach workshops for others in PPEM, the college, the university, and beyond. PPEM will continue to hold these types of workshops for new students, faculty, and staff as they join the department. This initiative has already begun.
  2. Deliver a pipeline of trained undergraduate researchers. Many successful plant pathologists started their careers by working with outstanding mentors in PPEM research laboratories. The intent of this goal is to increase the availability and effectiveness of undergraduate research opportunities in PPEM in order to capitalize on this strength. Limited funding is available for student salaries and supplies for their projects. Additionally, there is little funding available to send undergraduates to regional or national meetings to present their work and increase their drive toward plant pathology and environmental microbiology fields. Success with this initiative will make the department competitive for federal funding and increase the number of outstanding candidates for graduate degree programs at Penn State and other institutions.

New initiatives will be selected as needed by the department head in consultation with PPEM faculty and with approval of the college's senior associate dean. The initiatives will be designed to position the department to lead in novel areas of education, research, or extension.

Contributions to the Endowment

With this endowment department members are looking ahead to ensure that PPEM is resilient in preparing for the future but is established in part through gifts made to honor or memorialize their foundations (mentors, parents, and family). Donations of any amount may be made to the endowment.

Due to a strong conviction that this department is poised for an era of renewed greatness, new Department Head Dr. Carolee Bull and her husband Jean-Philippe Fillettaz have made a commitment to match the first $25,000 donated to this fund. This is an opportunity to double every dollar given. Please contact (814-865-7448) or , Senior Director of Development for the College of Agricultural Sciences (814-863-1168) to talk about their vision for this fund. They would be happy to discuss any level of support for the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology. Checks can be made payable to Penn State University and sent directly to PPEM (c/o Diane Yoder, Penn State University, 212A Buckhout Lab, University Park, PA 16802) or donations can be given online.

News releases

Department Head Gift for Plant Pathology, Environmental Microbiology Endowment (August 15, 2016)

Alumnus and Industry Leaders Donate to New PPEM Endowment (August 26, 2016)

Contact Information

Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D.
  • Department Head, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology
Phone: 814-865-7448