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Plant Pathology

Department of Plant Pathology


More about Plant Pathology


We believe that no one should go hungry.

That's why Elizabeth Roche, now an Ohio State student in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, thinks plant pathology is important.

   metro high school

As a Metro High School student (Columbus), Roche was one of six from Ohio selected to attend the Global Youth Institute  in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Global Youth Institute is hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation, founded by Norman Borlaug, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Father of the Green Revolution.  Borlaug, a reknowned agronomist who developed disease-resistant varieties of wheat, was credited with helping millions from famine with his groundbreaking advancements in wheat production.  This led to an exciting Borlaug-Ruan internship at CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.


2010 Borlaug display

Above:  Roche was involved in a capstone project with Sarah Ellis, Pierce Paul and Monica Lewandowski in the Department of Plant Pathology.  Elizabeth helped educate students about the devastating impact of plant diseases on our food supply in an outreach event, Scarlet and Gray Ag Day.  She  also created a photographic exhibit about Norman Borlaug on display in Kottman Hall-Columbus campus and is also developing informational resources on wheat diseases.  She works at Metro High School's student farm and farmer's market and was also involved in student research in Thomas K. Mitchell's lab.

Want to learn more about Plant Pathology?  You may be interested in the following introductory courses:


If you're looking to transfer, check out CFAES resources for transfer students


CFAES video  

What is it like to be a student in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at Ohio State?

> Find out from our students!

(OSUCFAES YouTube 4:04 min)




Kara Riggs was working in a research lab in the Department of Plant Pathology since the eighth grade.  She just graduated from Ohio State with a BS in Plant Health Management and is working on her doctorate at the University of Missouri.  Read about her experience:
> URO Spotlight

  undergraduate research


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Robert Beaulieu, BA Comparative Studies magna cum laude with Honors, Fulbright Scholar, Plant Health Management Honors research project and Summer Research Intern in Plant Pathology

Although I did not major in Plant Pathology, I received more than I could ever imagine from the professors, staff, and students of the department over my career at Ohio State. The atmosphere that I experienced within the Plant Pathology community was very comfortable, welcoming, and accommodating to my needs.

     As a student researcher and Summer Research Intern in Plant Pathology, I learned a great deal about scientific investigation.

     My advisor, Dr. Boehm, made sure I understood the work and taught me the biological and chemical aspects behind the research techniques and the disease we were studying. As a student, I found this aspect most important and really appreciated the patience and diligence of everyone who helped me through the work.

     The Department of Plant Pathology has provided me with so much in terms of intellectual stimulation, travel opportunities, worldwide connections, and financial support (and I wasn't even a Plant Path major!) that I highly recommend joining the team. Whether you want a career in turfgrass or just a well-rounded scientific education, Plant Pathology has everything to offer! 


Grant Austin, student, Case Western Reserve University and Summer Research Intern in Plant Pathology at Ohio State in Wooster (Dr. Anne Dorrance's lab); Grant attended the 2008 American Phytopathological Society Centennial Meeting where he was co-author on a poster

     I've learned that there's something to satisfy every interest within the field - from thinking out of the box in IPM to engineering plants for the production of vaccines - really intriguing.

     In the lab, the most interesting things I learned were how to do DC-PCR and SSCP, although this proved to be surprisingly frustrating!

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     The American Phytopathological Society meeting was an absolutely great experience; I loved Minneapolis and was pleasantly surprised at the range of topics covered by the meeting.



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Shannon Quinn, BS Biological Sciences, Ohio State and Summer Research Intern in Plant Pathology

     My experience as an intern in the Department of Plant Pathology was a great way for me to conclude my four years as an undergraduate at The Ohio State University. I did not know much about plant pathology before I began my internship in Dr. Pierluigi (Enrico) Bonello's laboratory.  What little I knew I had learned in introductory biology courses during the first and second year of my biology major.

     With the hands-on experience that this internship gave me I was able to learn a great deal about plant pathology.  While my main project was the Sudden Oak Death monitoring project, I was also given the freedom to work on several other experiments in Dr. Bonello's lab.  I gained new knowledge and skills everyday I came into work.  My future endeavors are sure to be enriched by my summer internship in the Plant Pathology Department at The Ohio State University.


Daviana Lopez Torres, applied microbiology major, Universidad del Este, Puerto Rico and 2008 Summer Research Opportunity Program intern with Thomas K. Mitchell

     During this summer I had the opportunity to go to Ohio State and experience what research in plant pathology really is.  I say it like this because even when my dad is a landscaping and my mom is been in love with plants since she was born, I do think flowers are pretty (like most women do) but still . . . I'VE NEVER LIKED PLANTS, AT ALL!

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     So, when I learned that I was going to work in the Department of Plant Pathology, I thought that it was gonna be really boring and totally away from what I'm used to do in the lab as a microbiology student.  Nevertheless it turned to be completely the opposite; my experience working in plant pathology this year was amazing! It was way much more fun than any of the research I've done before.  Even when my mentors helped me all the way during the summer, I felt like I worked much more independently, so I was able to learn lots of new techniques and information related to my field of study!  Now I feel more prepared in different areas like mycology, molecular biology, genetics and of course, in microbiology as well.

Chris Hurdzan, Environmental Sciences graduate student and Plant Health Management major as a second bachelor's degree

     When I completed my bachelor's degree in environmental science at the Ohio State University, I had learned alot, but I had difficulty applying what I had learned to the real world.  So when I decided to complete a second bachelor's degree in Plant Health Management, my emphasis was as much on application as it was on theory.   That's why I chose to intern at the C. Wayne Ellett Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.

     During my tenure as an intern, I was exposed to the incredibly complex process of plant disease identification, a process that combines objective, analytical thought with the principles learned during my plant health management coursework.  It was the perfect setting for me to observe how disease manifests on a wide variety of plants and how the extent, severity and appearance of a disease is influenced by the abiotic (e.g., light, temperature, moisture) conditions under which it develops.

     The diagnostic clinic is an ideal opportunity for motivated students to expand and strengthen their understanding of plant-pest interactions in a professional laboratory by working with real world diseases in real world scenarios.  Looking back, I am certain that my education within the plant  health management major would have been incomplete without this internship opportunity.