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Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Plant Pathology and Microbiology / Department Highlights / Faculty Highlights / Faculty Highlights - Dr. Alison Robertson

Faculty Highlights - Dr. Alison Robertson

Assistant Professor

Describe your journey to Iowa State University?  I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe. I graduated with a BSc degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa in 1991. Between 1993 and 1999 I worked at the Tobacco Research Board in Harare, Zimbabwe as the Extension Plant Pathologist. While I was there I did my M.S. degree in Plant Pathology. In 1999, my husband and I decided to come to the U.S. to pursue graduate degrees. I graduated with my PhD from Clemson University S.C. in 2003. My PhD research was molecular-based and while I enjoyed my time in the laboratory, I missed interacting with county agents and growers and working in the field. Since the economic situation in Zimbabwe was unstable, we decided to stay in the US and I began applying for Plant Pathologist positions in Extension.

Why did you choose a career in plant pathology?  It happened by accident. We had a couple of introductory lectures to Plant Pathology in one of my freshman classes and I was fascinated. It doesn’t occur to many people that plants get sick and they need doctors too.

What is your area of research and what impact does your research have?  My research program is strongly influenced by the needs of Iowa corn and soybean producers. The goal of my research program is to improve the knowledge of ecological aspects of corn and soybean pathosystems, and thereby increase the effectiveness of disease management practices and enhance crop production efficiency.

What do you enjoy most about living in/near Ames? Ames is a great place to raise a family: there are loads of parks and hiking trails, a great library, and many athletic events and live shows to attend.

What do you do when you are not working? Hang out with my family; go on hikes or bicycle rides around Ames; go camping at various state parks across the state; attend some of the small town festivals and county fairs during the summer.

 

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Department Highlights

Bogdanove Laboratory

Xanthomonas oryzae pathovars: model pathogens of a model crop

"Bacterial diseases cause significant losses in many crops, and control measures are often limited or unavailable. Also, bacterial diseases of plants can be tractable models for understanding plant responses to microbial pathogens generally. Research in the Bogdanove laboratory centers on two important diseases of rice, bacterial blight and bacterial leaf streak." Read More