View publications under the "Works" tab.
10th Recipient of the Jakob Eriksson Prize in Plant Pathology
Website > Madden Lab
My research is focused on understanding and describing plant diseases at the population level and relating disease intensity to crop losses. I use mathematics and statistics to characterize disease epidemics in time and space with the goal of determining which biological and physical factors best predict: disease invasion, persistence, outbreaks, and the magnitude of disease spread. Recently, I have been using models to develop approaches for assessing the threat of plant pathogens as bioterrorism weapons against U.S. crops. For the last 20 years I have worked heavily on determining how rainfall affects splash dispersal of fungal spores. This basic work has increased our understanding of how fungal spores move within fields and between fields, and has shown how to better control some economically important diseases.
I do not have a specific crop responsibility, although I have worked a great deal with fungal diseases of strawberry and other fruit crops. I am especially interested in anthracnose of strawberry, caused by Colletotrichum acutatum, leather rot, caused by Phytophthora cactorum, fungal diseases of grapes, and Fusarium head blight of wheat and barley. Recently, I have worked extensively on developing risk and epidemiological models for Fusarium head blight. Although I am interested in controlling these diseases, my research on the spatial-temporal disease dynamics also serves as a model for similar diseases on many crops. I also work in several interdisciplinary projects with other plant pathologists and plant scientists to better understand and manage plant diseases.
- Plant disease epidemiology, disease modeling, statistical analysis, and crop loss assessment primarily aimed at fungal (and oomycete) diseases of fruit crops, Fusarium head blight of wheat, as well as other diseases.
- Influence of climate and environment on disease dynamics
- Development of disease management strategies based on epidemiological theory and experimentation.
- Use of mathematical and statistical modeling to describe and understand the temporal and spatial dynamics of disease epidemics and forecast the risk of disease outbreaks
- Quantification and prediction of crop losses and toxin contamination in relation to disease intensity and pathogen density
- Sampling for disease incidence, including the development of new statistical methods for predicting sample sizes; and predicting the invasion and persistence of introduced non-indigenous pathogen species
View impact story: Fusarium Head Blight Risk Assessment Tool
Who am I?
I was born and raised in Ashland, Pennsylvania, a small coal mining town in the eastern part of the state. I attended The Pennsylvania State University and received a B.S. degree in Biology/Botany in 1975. During my senior year I took the introductory course in plant pathology and fell in love with the field. In fact, the lecture on epidemiology inspired me to emphasize this area in graduate school. I stayed at Penn State to earn M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology because, in the 1970's, this was clearly the best school to study botanical epidemiology. During my graduate education I developed a strong interest in the population biology of diseases and developed skills in computer science, mathematics, and statistics. After graduating in 1980, I came to Ohio State University (Wooster Campus) to work as a research scientist. I became an assistant professor in 1983, and eventually was promoted to full professor in 1991. Throughout my career I have been most interested in how plant diseases behave at the population (field and region) level, and have worked on many diseases caused by fungi and viruses. I often use statistics and mathematics to represent epidemics and to evaluate control strategies. Besides my research and teaching at Ohio State, I am very active in the national professional organization of plant pathologists, the American Phytopathological Society (APS). Previously I was Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journal Phytopathology, and I served as President of APS from 1996-1997. Through my national activities I am trying to improve public understanding of the impact of plant diseases on food production worldwide, and draw realistic attention to the threat of plant pathogens as weapons against U.S. crops.
Teaching and Outreach
I teach a graduate level course in Plant Disease Epidemiology (PLNTPTH 0702), where we use the new textbook I co-wrote with Gareth Hughes and Frank van den Bosch, The Study of Plant Disease Epidemics. I also co-teach Plant Disease Management (PLNTPTH 5603) and give lectures in other courses, especially on biosecurity issues. I am very active advising graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.
Most of my statistical and mathematical modeling has been done using commercial software, especially SAS, MINITAB, and MATHCAD. However, I have also written or prepared over the years computer programs for specialized analyses. Some programs (either specialized or based on commercial software) with reasonable documentation are available by going to my course website
(Plant Disease Epidemiology) and clicking on Downloads, or by going to the website that supports my mixed-model workshops (Mixed Models for Data Analysis - Workshop Resources). At these sites, there are programs for meta-analysis, mixed model and generalized linear mixed model analysis, spatial analysis, nonparametric analysis, polynomial distributed lag regression, repeated measures analysis, and other applications. These programs are not intended for commercial use, and I make no guarantees that they will work correctly under all circumstances.