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Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology Welcomes Assistant Professor of Soilborne Disease Dynamics and Management

Posted: October 7, 2019

The Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences will welcome a new faculty member on February 1, 2020.
Sharifa Crandall IMAGE: PROVIDED

Sharifa Crandall IMAGE: PROVIDED

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – The Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences will welcome a new faculty member on February 1, 2020.

Sharifa Crandall, a postdoctoral researcher with the USDA – Agricultural Research Service in Salinas, California, will serve as an assistant professor of soilborne disease dynamics and management. 

Crandall has a background in microbial ecology and fungal biology research in natural and managed ecosystems. Her current research focuses on the analysis of spatio-temporal relationships in fungal phenotypes, diversity and function. She uses microbiome related tools to analyze soil fungi that can serve as diagnostic indicators of plant stress for California specialty crops. Using molecular genetic diagnostic techniques, Crandall also develops specific and sensitive assays to detect emerging pathogens.  Her expertise with oomycetes and other fungal pathogen groups will augment current departmental mycological strengths.

At Penn State, Crandall will pursue research understanding phylogenetic distribution of important soilborne fungal functional traits (e.g., reproduction, decomposition, transfer of nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon, stress tolerance) in Pennsylvania crops. She will continue to develop metagenomic approaches for pathogen detection and distribution mapping. 

Crandall holds a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree in forest science from Yale University School of Forestry and a doctorate in environmental studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

She has a significant number of awards including the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Diversity Fellowship.

Crandall will bring with her a passion for teaching and mentorship. As a postdoc, she taught an upper division undergraduate course in plant pathology at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and mentored underrepresented minority student research at CSUMB and University of California, Davis as a postdoc.