About the Department

Penn State’s hub for advancing the understanding, management, and use of plants.

The Penn State Department of Plant Science is a national leader in teaching, research, and extension programs. Our small-school atmosphere provides a warm, welcoming, intellectually stimulating, and professional environment.

Our undergraduate program currently offers three four-year majors: Plant Sciences, Landscape Contracting, and Turfgrass Science. We also offer a two-year program in Golf Course Turfgrass Management, online turfgrass degrees, and certificates, and minors in Agronomy, Arboriculture, and Horticulture.

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

Our graduate program includes Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Agricultural and Environmental Plant Science, and an online Master of Professional Studies degree in Turfgrass Management. The department participates in three intercollege programs (Ecology, Molecular Cellular and Integrative Biosciences, 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 postharvest handling.

Research information generated on campus and at our three Research and 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 websites. The Penn State Extension 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.

Meet our faculty, staff, and students, and see why we are one of the premier plant science hubs in the country.

Mission Statement

The Department of Plant Science’s 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, helping to prepare 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 Science will lead in the development and application of science-based knowledge for understanding and managing diverse and sustainable landscapes and agroecosystems that protect ecosystem 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 we 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

Latest News

May 17, 2021

Discovery of flowering gene in cacao may lead to accelerated breeding strategies

For the first time, a gene that controls flowering in cacao has been identified, a discovery that may help accelerate breeding efforts aimed at improving the disease-ridden plant, Penn State researchers suggested in a new study.

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May 13, 2021

Junior grows seeds of opportunity as student in College of Ag Sciences

Kyle Hartmann, a plant sciences major in the College of Agricultural Sciences, found new opportunities at Penn State which started after he joined the Accomplish Program. The peer mentor program helps students moving from other campuses or universities to find resources to successfully acclimate to University Park, the college and the community.

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May 11, 2021

Staph infection turf study yields insight in coronavirus survivability on fields

When Andrew McNitt and colleagues were conducting a study of the survivability of bacteria that cause staph infections on synthetic and natural turf football fields in 2008-09, no one had heard of COVID-19, of course. So, the question of whether the novel coronavirus that triggered the global pandemic could persist on playing surfaces and infect players was unimaginable.

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May 3, 2021

Mutant corn gene boosts sugar in seeds, leaves, may lead to breeding better crop

An abnormal build up of carbohydrates — sugars and starches — in the kernels and leaves of a mutant line of corn can be traced to one misregulated gene, and that discovery offers clues about how the plant deals with stress.

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Department of Plant Science

Address

102 Tyson Building
University Park, PA 16802