US (PA): Plant pathology students reap benefits of research opportunities

Helping undergraduate students understand scientific knowledge through participation in research is a top priority for faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"Any STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) student must understand how scientific knowledge is created. Even if you don't go into research, you need to know how this knowledge is created if you want to use it effectively to make decisions," said Carolee Bull, professor and department head.

"For any student who wants a career in research, understanding where the knowledge comes from is the building block. It gives students the fundamentals from which they can go on to do graduate work or have other careers in the future."

Students within the department, such as senior Melissa Mercado and junior Drew May, are well aware — and very thankful — for these opportunities. Both students share a love of plants and the science behind them, but the two have followed different paths to Penn State and their research projects.

May, a Gettysburg native, is a biological engineering major with minors in plant pathology, environmental engineering, and watershed and water resource management. Penn State is a family tradition for May, going all the way back to his grandparents who worked in Penn State Extension.

Looking to the future, May hopes to operate his own hydroponic greenhouse one day. Hydroponics is growing plants with little to no soil, and he explained that the business is lucrative as well as challenging.

Read more at Penn State University (Kelly Jedrzejewski)

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