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    Kansas State University
  Nov 19, 2017
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog

Plant Pathology

1712 Claflin Rd
4024 Throckmorton Hall
Fax: 785-532-5692

Department Head:

Martin Draper

Director of graduate studies:

Megan Kennelly

Graduate Faculty:

*Eduard D. Akhunov, Ph.D., Institute of Genetics, Russia
Alina Akhunova, Ph.D., St. Petersburg State University
*William W. (Bill) Bockus, (Emeritus), Ph.D., University of California, Davis
*Robert L. (Bob) Bowden, (Adjunct) Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Forrest Chumley, (Adjunct) Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
*Larry Claflin (Emeritus) Ph.D., Kansas State University
*David E. Cook, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
*Erick D. DeWolf, Ph.D., North Dakota State University
*Martin Draper, Ph.D., North Dakota State University
Justin D. Faris, (Adjunct) Ph.D., Kansas State University
*John P. Fellers, (Adjunct) Ph.D., University of Kentucky
*Bernd R. Friebe, Ph.D., Free University of Berlin
*Bikram S. (Bik) Gill, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
*Douglas J. (Doug) Jardine, Ph.D., Michigan State University
*Lowell B. Johnson, (Emeritus) Ph.D. Purdue University
Manjit Kang, Ph.D., University of Missouri
*Megan A. Kennelly, Ph.D., Cornell University
*John F. Leslie, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
*Christopher R. Little, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
*Sanzhen Liu, Ph.D., Iowa State University
Kevin McCluskey, Ph.D., Oregon State University
James C. (Clare) Nelson, (Emeritus) Ph.D., Cornell University
*Jesse Poland, Ph.D., Cornell University
*Fred W. Schwenk, (Emeritus) Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
*James P. Stack, Ph.D., Cornell University
*Donald L. (Don) Stuteville, (Emeritus) Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
*Richard B. Todd, Ph.D., The University of Melbourne
Timothy C. (Tim) Todd, M.S., Oklahoma State University
Joe M. Tohme, (Adjunct) Ph.D., Michigan State University
*Christopher Toomajian, Ph.D., University of Chicago
*Harold N. Trick, Ph.D., Florida State University
*Barbara A. Valent, Ph.D., University of Colorado
*Frank F. White, (Emeritus) Ph.D., University of Washington-Seattle

*Denotes graduate faculty that are certified to serve as the major professor for doctoral students

Description and mission

Plant pathology is the study of plant diseases, their cause, effects, and control. The discipline is closely integrated with the other biological sciences, and we have unique strengths in basic and applied research.

Departmental research and teaching emphasis

  • The major field crops in Kansas: wheat, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, and soybeans, plus horticultural plants (trees, turf, vegetables, fruits).
  • The major pathogen groups: bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and viruses. Molecular genetics is a departmental strength.
  • Specialty areas: bioinformatics; biological control; cell and tissue culture, plant transformation and regeneration; disease diagnostics; disease management; disease physiology; epidemiology; host/parasite genetics, cytogenetics; microbial ecology; microbial genetics.

Our Department administers the campus-wide Plant Biotechnology Center and Integrated Genomics Facility; the 9-state, Great Plains Diagnostic Network; and the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, which is international in scope.

Invited seminars

Our Department has an exceptionally strong invited seminar series, averaging 18 speakers per year from universities, research centers, government agencies, and private industry around the world. All seminars are open to the rest of the academic community and to the public. Seminars are presented throughout the year.


Our Department currently has 22 state faculty, 5 adjunct faculty, 25-35 graduate students, about 25 post-doctoral fellows and visiting scientists, and about 20 technical assistants, who come from 20 countries on 5 continents. We are a diverse Department with a global climate in which ideas thrive and people excel.

Facilities and equipment

Our Department has 39,000 sq. ft. of modern office, laboratory, and classroom space, most on the top floor of a 4-story building that is attached to 100,000 sq. ft. (2.3 acres, or about 1 hectare) of greenhouse space. This has been described as the largest university plant science complex in the country. Faculty have individual research labs, all well-equipped for the types of research they do. We share equipment, materials, and ideas across the Department.

Degree options

The department offers a full range of courses leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. These cover diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and viruses; bacterial and fungal genetics; disease control, diagnosis, ecology, epidemiology, and physiology; host plant resistance to disease; biotechnology; genomic applications; bioinformatics; plant-virus-vector interactions; plant molecular biology; student seminar; special problems and topics; and research.

For students coming into our program, we like to see background coursework in the biological sciences (such as botany or biology, plant pathology, entomology, mycology, microbiology, genetics); chemistry (such as inorganic, organic, biochemistry); mathematics; physics; statistics; and soil science or geology. Some coursework to remedy background deficiencies can be taken along with graduate courses, and some of this can be taken for graduate credit. Grades in relevant courses should be A or B, with an overall grade point average of at least B. We do not require a GRE score.

Ph.D. students in Plant Pathology are required to take a class on each of the four major pathogen groups, a course in the molecular biology of plants and/or their pathogens, a course in community level biology as related to plant pathology, and to have a significant teaching experience.  M.S. students take a subset of the classes taken by Ph.D. students.  Courses taken in a M.S. program generally are applicable to a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology.  Coursework requirements are listed on our departmental homepage at:

Some of our faculty also participate in the interdepartmental program in Genetics, described elsewhere, which leads to a degree in Genetics.


Applications are accepted at any time of the year, and graduate studies can begin during fall, spring, or summer terms. Applying early increases the probability of being awarded an assistantship. Applications are completed online at

Financial Assistance

Financial support may be available to qualified students. Departmental graduate research assistantships for 2016-2017 are $23,850 for students working toward an M.S. degree and $25,000 for students working toward a Ph.D. degree; assistantships increase about $400 per year. Tuition for students on assistantships is also paid. All applications are evaluated for available assistantships. Students may also be eligible to apply for fellowships from private and federal sources.

All students on half-time assistantships are required to enroll in at least 6 credit hours during each regular semester and 3 hours in the summer term. Research hours can be taken as needed to fill in these credits. This requirement will be waived during the semester in which the degree is granted, although students must be enrolled in enough credits during that semester to meet University requirements.

Although there are no formal GTAs in plant pathology, all Ph.D. graduate students assist in teaching at least one course in the department during their graduate studies and receive Ph.D. credit for their efforts by enrolling for one or two credits of PLPTH 922.  Students whose native language is not English are required to first score at the appropriate level on an English comprehension test administered by the English Language Program at K-State.


Doctor of Philosophy

Master of Science


Plant Pathology