Pennsylvania's agricultural landscape is diverse, but economically important to the economy of the state. Field crops like corn, soybean, wheat, barley and oats are grown on approximately 2.5 million acres (1.01 million hectares), with a combined value of well over $1 billion. Pennsylvania producers deal with quite variable growing conditions, from soil type to production region, including farms with long, deep valleys. The variable microclimate effect, while challenging, also provides opportunities for research that can directly impact grower decision-making. Our lab is interested in improving the profitability and sustainability of PA's agricultural sector through research that is innovative, but also that address the needs of our producers. We apply mixed technologies and methodologies to address those concerns. Furthermore, our long history of collaboration, including internationally, affords students the opportunity to develop a multi-faceted program that integrates research with teaching and extension.

Areas of possibilities for student projects:

1. What is the importance, role and impact of crop rotations on plant pathogen dynamics and plant disease management in corn, soybean, small grains and forages?

2. How does the use of chemical pesticides impact the the population dynamics of microorganisms in the soil or on a leaf surface? How do these changes impact long-term disease management decision-making?

3. How do we incorporate and measure environmental stewardship related to different disease management tactics in the urban-rural divide?

4. What is the economic cost-benefit of using different management tactics in field and forage crop production?

5. Can we integrate risk assessment methods to develop long-term management recommendations that address different scales of production?

Our philosophy is on integrating a science-based approach with our expertise, along with knowledge and concerns of our producers to provide evidence-based solutions to agricultural issues. The iterative nature of this approach allows to focus on adaptable management tools, as well as to integrate multiple areas of the physical, biological and social sciences.

We hope you are interested in joining our team! Feel free to contact us with any questions you have regarding potential opportunities.