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About the Department

The Department of Plant Science at Penn State University is a recent merger of Horticulture and the Agronomic scientists, from the former Crop and Soil Sciences department, that share a common mission of education, discovery, and communication to improve the understanding, management and use of plants.

Our undergraduate program currently offers three 4-year majors: Plant Science, Landscape Contracting, and Turfgrass Science. We also offer a 2-year program in Golf Course Turfgrass Management and minors in Agronomy, Arboriculture, and Horticulture.

Facilities to support our teaching efforts includes more than 37,000 square feet of greenhouse space, growth chambers, a 650-acre Agronomy research farm, a 100-acre Horticulture research farm, the 26-acre Valentine Research Farm for turfgrass, two landscape design studios, and a computer lab with 26 computers and associated printers and plotters. Faculty at the Berks campus also teach Horticulture courses and advise potential Plant Science, Turfgrass, and Landscape Contracting students. Our Undergraduate Advising Center provides students with individual counseling and facilitates the transition of students from Commonwealth campuses to University Park. Students also have access to international study tours, internships, undergraduate research opportunities, and the department annually offers more than $125,000 in scholarships.

Our graduate program offers graduate study leading to Masters of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Horticulture and Agronomy, as well as an M.P.S. in Turfgrass Management. The department participates in three inter-college programs (Ecology, Genetics, and Plant Biology). Opportunities exist for international study and research experience.

Research activities span the entire range of the plant sciences, including plant molecular biology, plant genetics and breeding, plant physiology, ecology, agronomic and horticultural crop production and marketing, and post-harvest handling.

Research information generated on campus and at our three Research & Extension Centers located in Biglerville, Landisville, and Northeast is made available to Pennsylvania residents through our Extension programs. Extension specialists, along with county educators, transfer science-based information through educational meetings, extension bulletins, newsletters, and web sites. The Penn State Master Gardener program is administered by our department with more than 2,300 trained volunteers in 58 counties to educate the public on best practices in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship.

Mission Statement

The Department of Plant Sciences’ mission is to enhance our understanding and management of agronomic and horticultural crops and managed landscapes that are the foundation for managed ecosystems, food and fiber production, landscapes and environmental quality to enhance human environments. We educate students regarding stewardship of these systems, preparing them for fulfilling private- and public-sector employment; we discover answers to complex problems that threaten sustainable land use and food production through science-based research; and we communicate our research findings through scholarly publications and relevant outreach programs to enhance the quality of life for residents of Pennsylvania and the world.    

Vision Statement

The Department of Plant Sciences will lead in the development and application of science-based knowledge for understanding and managing diverse and sustainable landscapes and agroecosystems that protect ecosystems functions and community well-being. We will be universally recognized for teaching programs that educate future decision makers and managers in industries involving plants. We will continue to respond to developing problems, but will seek to be forward looking and proactive in the stewardship of natural resources. To accomplish this vision we must expand multidisciplinary teams to address critical regional, national and international needs. We strive to evolve our learning and outreach activities to address current and future economic, social, and technological developments and maintain an active dialogue with managers of rural and urban landscapes.

Core Values

  • Excellence, creativity and productivity in the scholarship of resident and distance education, research and extension/outreach.
  • Openness and respect in a work environment that values everyone as unique individuals and promotes professional and personal growth and development.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration and communication to enhance and disseminate knowledge related to plants and solve problems for the common good.
  • Commitment to recognize, investigate and address important emerging issues raised by our stakeholders.

Best wishes,

  • Professor and Head


814-865-2571

Areas of Expertise:
  • Plant mineral nutrition
  • Micronutrient transport
  • Molecular mechanisms of iron transport