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Plant Pathology Graduate Program Assistantship Opportunities

Plant Pathology Graduate Research Assistantships are available in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology (PPEM) beginning August 2020 for highly qualified applicants. Applicants with strong demonstrated intellectual merit, outstanding GPA and GRE test scores, and laboratory research experiences that have led to creative accomplishments are encouraged to apply to work with any of our faculty and nationally-recognized research programs.

Opportunities including Dual-Title Degrees, formal professional development training, and international research opportunities are available as part of these paid assistantships. Both Masters and Doctoral assistantships are available.

Apply by December 15 for full funding consideration.
In addition to the established research programs in PPEM, we are specifically recruiting talented students to work in these cutting-edge research programs:

Field Crop Disease Epidemiology
The Esker lab is looking for motivated students interested in working in plant disease epidemiology research, education, and extension related to improving field crop and small grain production. Our program integrates novel field, laboratory, and statistical methods and technologies to improve our understanding of plant pathogen and disease dynamics, especially related to best management practices, decision-making and the long-term impact of these approaches to improve profitability and sustainability for growers. We work with large, on-farm research networks to integrate grower production practices and fields into our models and analyses. Furthermore, the Esker lab maintains many active collaborations, including several international collaborations related to crop loss and risk assessment, as well as teaching statistics and epidemiology.
Interested in linking computational epidemiology with extension and education? This project focuses on crops like corn and wheat, but there are also opportunities to work with soybean. The goal of the project is the development of decision support platforms that enable high-throughput data entry of farmer practices with machine learning tools to understand different patterns of production and the impact of important diseases across production zones. Results from this research are then translated into educational and extension training scenarios to work with stakeholders on understanding the risk of diseases and the best management tactics and strategies to mitigate the losses.
Dr. Paul Esker

Seed Phytobiomes and Phytobacteriology
The Bull Penn Laboratory is seeking two Ph.D. students to start Fall 2020 to work toward degrees in Plant Pathology, Plant Biology or related graduate program at Penn State University with an emphasis on phytobiomes and phytobacteriology. Students will choose research projects that investigate seed microbiomes, microbial predators, or plant microbe interactions. Students may choose to use translational taxonomy approaches including diagnostic metagenomics for detection and quantification of pathogens from the environment and seed. These basic research projects will have direct impacts on the management of bacterial diseases of cucurbits and chenopods field and seed crops.
Dr. Carolee Bull

Vegetable Crop Pathology and Disease Management
The Gugino Vegetable Pathology lab is seeking one highly motivated Ph.D. student interested in building a strong foundation in plant pathology and plant disease management to address real-world problems. The overall goal of our extension education and adaptive research program is to develop integrated management strategies for important and emerging diseases of major vegetable crops through understanding pathogen biology, epidemiology and host-pathogen interactions. This project will focus on the economically important bacterial diseases of onion, and work towards furthering our understanding of the causal pathogen population as well as collaborate with a national team to develop and evaluate management tools that growers can incorporate into existing integrated pest management programs. Opportunities to build skills in translational education and extension to diverse audiences will be provided.
Dr. Beth Gugino

Soilborne Disease Metagenomics
The Crandall lab seeks one motivated Ph.D. student to start in Fall 2020 to work toward a degree in Plant Pathology, Plant Biology, Ecology, or a related graduate program at Penn State. We are looking for someone who is interested in learning how to use metagenomic tools to detect and suppress plant disease. The research focus will be on fungal and oomycete soilborne pathogens that infect specialty crops such as potato or berries and identifying shifts in root microbial diversity and function. This project will provide opportunities to develop essential skills in: field and greenhouse experimental design, novel molecular lab methods, and computational analysis of genetic data. Central to this position is learning how to accurately and concisely communicate results to researchers and growers.
Dr. Sharifa Crandall

Source: The Pennsylvania State University
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