Jul 24, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Plant Pathology

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

Department Head

Megan Kennelly

Director of Graduate Studies

Megan Kennelly

Graduate Faculty

Alina Akhunova, Ph.D., St. Petersburg State University
*Eduard D. Akhunov, Ph.D., Institute of Genetics, Russia
*Kelsey Andersen Onofre, Ph.D., University of Florida
*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
*Bernd R. Friebe, Ph.D., Free University of Berlin
*Bikram S. “Bik” Gill, Ph.D., University of California - Davis
Jagger Harvey, Ph.D., University of California
*Megan A. Kennelly, Ph.D., Cornell University
*Dal-Hoe Koo, Ph.D., Chungnam National 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
*Shahideh Nouri, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
*Jesse Poland, Ph.D., Cornell University
*Jessica Rupp, Ph.D., Kansas State University
*James P. Stack, Ph.D., Cornell University
*Richard B. Todd, Ph.D., The University of Melbourne
Timothy C. “Tim” Todd, M.S., Oklahoma 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

Adjunct Faculty

*Robert L. “Bob” Bowden, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin - Madison
*John P. Fellers, Ph.D., University of Kentucky

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

Description and Mission

Our mission is to understand and improve plant health. Plant pathology is the study of plant diseases, their cause, effects, biology, ecology, and control. The discipline is closely integrated with the other biological sciences, and we have unique strengths in basic and applied research. Our work has state, regional, national, and international impact.

Departmental Research and Teaching Emphasis

Our department offers broad training across all facets of plant pathology. Coursework and research include:

  • bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and viruses
  • bio-informatics, biological control, biotechnology (cell and tissue culture, plant transformation and regeneration)
  • disease diagnosis and management for major field crops in Kansas: wheat, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, and soybeans, horticultural plants (trees, turf, vegetables, fruits, ornamentals)
  • disease physiology
  • ecology and epidemiology
  • host and microbial genetics and genetics
  • modeling/statistics
  • molecular genetics
  • molecular plant-microbe interactions
  • biosecurity

Our Department administers the campus-wide Integrated Genomics Facility; the 9-state, Great Plains Diagnostic Network; the Wheat Genetics Resource Center; and the Fungal Genetics Stock Center.

Professional Development

Along with providing technical training, we offer professional development in science communication, networking, and leadership:

  • Weekly departmental seminar series exposes students to visiting scholars from within KSU and across the globe
  • Student proposal seminars and professional communications courses offer training in science communication
  • Graduate student club activities provide leadership development opportunities
  • Graduate students develop mentoring skills by mentoring undergraduate researchers
  • Graduate students gain instructional experience by serving as teaching assistants


Our Department currently has about 30 faculty members onsite, 25-35 graduate students, about 25 post-doctoral fellows, and visiting scientists, and about 20 technical assistants, who come from many different areas of the world. We are a diverse and inclusive Department with a global climate in which ideas thrive and people excel.

Facilities and Equipment

Our Department is housed in the Throckmorton Plant Sciences Center on the KSU campus. The Department has 39,000 sq. ft. of a modern office, laboratory, and classroom space. The building is connected to 100,000 sq. ft. (2.3 acres, or about 1 hectare) of greenhouse space. 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 on the following topics:

  • plant pathogenic bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and viruses
  • fungal genetics
  • plant genetics
  • disease control, diagnosis, ecology, epidemiology, and physiology
  • host plant resistance to disease and abiotic stress
  • biotechnology
  • genomic applications
  • bioinformatics
  • plant molecular biology
  • student proposal seminar
  • professional communications
  • special problems and topics for individualized study

A detailed list of courses is provided below along with specific curriculum requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

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


Please see our departmental page for current admission deadlines and other details:



General requirements

Applicants are accepted into the program only if they are accepted by a specific faculty member who will serve as the Major Professor. 

  • Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, or be on schedule to complete a bachelor’s degree prior to enrolling at KSU
  • Applicants should have coursework or training in most of the following areas:
    • Biological sciences (such as botany, biology, plant science, plant pathology, entomology, mycology, microbiology, genetics, agronomy, horticulture)
    • Chemistry (such as inorganic, organic, biochemistry)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Statistics
  • Relevant work experience or other professional training will also be considered
  • Overall grade point average should be at least a B (3.0 on 4.0 point scale)
    • Grades in background courses in biology, math, chemistry, etc., should be A or B
  • We do not require a GRE score
  • International students whose native language is not English must provide evidence of English proficiency (see our application website for details)

Applications are completed online at http://www.k-state.edu/grad/application/index.html

Financial Assistance

Financial support may be available to qualified students. Current graduate research assistantship (GRA) information is on our application information page:


All applications are evaluated for available assistantships. Students may also be eligible to apply for fellowships from private and federal sources.


Doctor of Philosophy

Master of Science


Plant Pathology