About the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology


Welcome to the Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology at Iowa State University!

This is your starting point and your destination for information on anything to do with plant health. Our department is the professional home to almost 100 faculty, staff, and students.

About twenty faculty members are charged with extension, research, and/or teaching missions and are running their respective programs in this department. One of our strengths is the great collegial and collaborative spirit that has resulted in numerous joint efforts within the department, with other departments at Iowa State University, and also throughout the country and the world.

The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University has a simple mission: We benefit society by protecting and enhancing plant health. However, as simple as this mission may sound, the implications of what it means to our tasks in research, teaching, and extension are immense.

Research scopes range from very applied problems to mission-oriented very basic programs, and research subjects span the wide range of bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes, and their plant hosts. Our extension services meet the needs of diverse groups from Amish farmers to horticultural endeavors and new developments like viticulture to the most modern farming operations in the world. We are ready to provide the knowledge to ensure plant health wherever it is threatened. Research and extension alone do not make us a successful department: we also are fulfilling vital teaching roles by educating the next generation of leaders. Our department is the home for top notch graduate education – not only in plant pathology, but also in a wide field ranging from sustainable agriculture to toxicology to genetics and molecular biology-related majors. Our graduates are sought-after professionals that find employment in industry, research institutions, or university settings. Also, the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, in collaboration with the Department of Animal Science, is the administrative home for the undergraduate microbiology major, and many courses in this major are being taught by plant pathology faculty.

These truly are exciting times for us. The soybean rust fungus continues to knock on Iowa’s doors and we are ready to meet this potentially devastating disease. Steadily increasing ethanol production from corn and the changes in cropping systems associated with this development pose new problems that plant pathologists will solve. Ever wondered how tiny microbes like bacteria, fungi and viruses can cause devastating disease in plants? We have, and we also are finding the answers. And what about global warming? Changes in the environment always will change the threats to plant health and with it our responsibilities. Undoubtedly, Plant Pathology is and will be at the heart of agricultural, horticultural, arboricultural, and even livestock businesses world wide and is of deep concern to anybody enjoying the sights and benefits of plants. There are many, continuously changing challenges ahead for plant pathology – and we are ready to meet them.

I invite you to visit our web pages and learn about the exciting world of Plant Pathology. If you are a farmer with a plant disease problem or a home owner whose favorite ornamental plant has problems, a graduate student looking for a suitable program, or a scientist searching employment - chances are you will find an area that is of interest to you. Again, welcome to the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University!

Department of Plant Pathology & Microbiology Governance Document and Policies 

To get a closer look at events, personnel, and departmental news, we invite you to browse through our issue archives of The Dispersal Notes, a monthly newsletter of all things about PLPM. 

To keep tabs on daily PLPM happenings....