Posted: October 25, 2017

Merrill Lab alumna Dr. Kira Bowen was presented the Outstanding Alumni Award by the College of Agricultural Sciences on October 25.

Dr. Kira Bowen, Auburn University | Credit: Penn State

Dr. Kira Bowen, Auburn University | Credit: Penn State

Dr. Kira Bowen, Vice President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), was given the Outstanding Alumni Award by the College of Agricultural Sciences and was inducted into the Armsby Honor Society in a ceremony at Penn State on October 25, 2017.

The Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology (PPEM) nominated Dr. Bowen for distinguishing herself through her professional accomplishments, scholarship, and service. Graduate and undergraduate students and faculty, including former PPEM Department Heads Drs. Elwin Stewart and Barbara Christ, joined Dr. Bowen and her spouse for the ceremony. In speaking about service Dr. Bowen said, "I do it because it is the right thing to do as a member of my profession."

Professor Bowen is a 1980 Penn State Plant Science alumna whose adviser was PPEM's Dr. William (Bill) Merrill, Jr., a forest pathologist. Merrill, PPEM facilities staff member Leona Price, and Dr. Richard D. Schein, who taught Bowen's epidemiology class, were influential in Dr. Bowen's decision to pursue graduate degrees in plant pathology, obtaining her master's degree from the University of Minnesota (Merrill's alma mater) and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. After a one-year postdoctoral position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University, Dr. Bowen has spent the past nearly thirty years as a member of Auburn University's Entomology and Plant Pathology faculty.

Vice-President of APS, Dr. Bowen will become President after the 2018 Annual Meeting as part of a four-year cycle of service. Professor Bowen met with graduate students and shared with them the benefits of APS membership, how to get involved, and how to make a difference in the society. A donor provided funding for APS memberships for those graduate students who attended. Additionally, Dr. Bowen had lunch and a roundtable discussion with graduate and undergraduate students on professional development.

(L-R) Drs. Carolee Bull and Kira Bowen, graduate students Amanda Mainello, Chauncy Hinshaw, and Laura del Sol Bautista Jalón | Credit: Samuel Martins, Penn State

Kira's spouse Dr. John Torbert joined her for a tour of the Penn State Arboretum and woodlot. They joined PPEM Head Dr. Carolee Bull and her spouse Jean-Philippe Fillettaz for a visit to the Happy Valley Winery where they reminisced with owners Elwin Stewart and Barbara Christ, who served as APS president as well as Acting and Associate Dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

(L-R) Drs. Carolee Bull, Kira Bowen, Barbara Christ, and Elwin Stewart | Credit: Carolee Bull, Penn State

Contact Information

Carolee T. Bull, Ph.D.
  • Professor of Bacterial Systematics and Plant Pathology, Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology