Plant Pathology is the science of plant health management that encompasses plant diseases, their nature, causal agents, host resistance, community ecology and interrelated phenomena. Plant Pathology is a broad program with emphasis on both basic molecular biology and field application. Graduate study in Plant Pathology involves the scientific training of professional psychopathologists. Emphasis is placed on the fundamental and practical concepts associated with pathology and the conceptual schemes of fungal, bacterial, viral, nematological, mycoplasmal and physiogenic diseases, host plant resistance, and the role of environmental cues in plant health. In addition, department faculty research most aspects of plant pathology, including physiology of parasitism, plant-microbe interactions, genetics of PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI) and Effector-triggered immunity (ETI), RNA silencing, genetics of pathogen variation and variability, genetics of host-pathogen-hyperparasite populations, ecology of soil-borne pathogens, etiology and epidemiology of plant disease, nematology, virology, biotechnology, phytotherapeutics and clinical phytopathology.
As a faculty we are committed to providing our students with the best training possible. Graduate study is different from undergraduate
studies. Our goal is not so much to provide masses of information, but to help the student learn “how to learn”. Science changes continuously and it is critically
important that scientists are able to grow and adapt to new technologies while incorporating the latest scientific “facts.” Our success is measured by how
well our students develop the discipline, the self-confidence, and the ethical standards that are primarily responsible for their future success. Much of what
we teach is by apprenticeship methods. There is considerable “art” in scientific research, teaching and extension. The best way to teach this is by
laboratory rotations, laboratory classes, seminar courses, field trips, and research experiences that we provide to our students. Most of our student’s
learning comes from primary literature and from personal interactions with professors, technical staff, and fellow students. Our primary purpose as
University faculty is to share our knowledge and skills with our students. The best way we know to do this is to include our students in all aspects of our
current research, teaching, and extension activities. PLPM is large enough to allow students to become exposed to all aspects of plant pathology and
plant-microbiology while small enough to promote close interaction between students and faculty.
The design of the graduate curriculum in Plant Pathology is challenging from a number of viewpoints. Many variations have been tried, including mini-courses that provided students exposure to many pathogen systems in a relatively short time frame. However, these courses were discontinued in part due to scheduling difficulties. All curricula revisions and changes are submitted to the Graduate Program Committee (GPC) which discusses the proposed changes and forwards possible changes to the full faculty for discussion, vote, and implementation.