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Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Plant Pathology and Microbiology / Department Highlights / Faculty Highlights / Faculty Highlights - Dr. Roger Wise

Faculty Highlights - Dr. Roger Wise

Professor - USDA Collaborator

Describe your journey to Iowa State University?  I grew up in Michigan and attended Michigan State University where I received a B.S. in Physiology in 1976. After a short break, I returned to MSU in 1978 to pursue a Ph.D. in Genetics where I investigated the genetics of barley-powdery mildew interactions under the direction of Albert Ellingboe. After graduating in1983, I conducted postdoctoral research from 1984 to 1986 at the University of Florida with Daryl Pring, where we cloned and demonstrated that the novel T-urf13 mitochondrial gene of T-cytoplasm maize was causal to male sterility and disease toxin sensitivity, and thus, the molecular basis for the southern corn leaf blight epidemic of 1970. Following a Fellowship on the molecular genetics of barley at Max-Planck-Institut, Köln, Germany, I accepted a position as a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist and Professor in Plant Pathology at Iowa State University in 1989.

Why did you choose a career Plant Pathology? In the Interdepartmental Genetics Program at MSU, we did three rotations during our first year – one was in Al Ellingboes’s lab in the Dept. of Plant Pathology. I was drawn to research in the genetics/molecular biology of host-pathogen interactions. It offers an intriguing biological system to interrogate both from the view of plant or pathogen. My B.S. was in (human) physiology, so I actually took my first plant courses during my Ph.D. program in Genetics.

What excites you about your job? I learn something new everyday.

What is your area of research and what impacts does your research have (or aim for)? Research in our laboratory is focused on the high-throughput functional analysis of important agronomic genes in cereal crops. We use a variety of interdisciplinary approaches, including plant and microbial genetics, molecular biology, plant pathology, and bioinformatics & computational biology. Historically, cereal crops have laid the foundation for numerous classical genetic studies in host-pathogen interactions, resulting in many model biological systems. In the area of plant-pathogen interactions, transcript profiling has provided unparalleled perception into the mechanisms underlying gene-for-gene resistance and basal defense, host vs. non-host resistance, or biotrophy vs. necrotrophy.

Why did you come to Iowa State University? Good job offer, opportunity to continue working on cereal crops

What keeps you at Iowa State University? Collaborators within the Department and the University. Excellent Interdepartmental Genetics and Bioinformatics programs. ARS support for the “Functional Genomics of Cereal Disease Defense project”.

What advice would you give to prospective students considering a graduate degree?  Learn as much basic science as you can – it will have application in most graduate degree programs.  Work in a research lab as an undergraduate – this is where you can get some great experience.

What do you do when you are not working? Traveling and collecting art from Central America and Europe. I enjoy perennial gardening – I have a huge Hosta collection. Coming from Michigan, I enjoy sailing and other water sports.