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

September 13, 2021

Eberly’s 2022 Lab Bench to Commercialization grant recipients announced

The Penn State Eberly College of Science has chosen faculty members Joyce Jose and Sally Mackenzie to receive its 2022 Lab Bench to Commercialization grants. This competitive program provides funding for researchers in the college, enabling them to enhance the commercial potential of ongoing Penn State research and prepare them to translate their Penn State-owned intellectual property to the marketplace.

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September 2, 2021

After 41-year Penn State career, plant science professor Kathleen Brown retires

Kathleen Brown, professor of plant stress biology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, recently retired after a 41-year career during which she helped break new ground in root biology, had a profound effect on many students and played an important role in the Department of Plant Science.

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August 23, 2021

No-till production farmers can cut herbicide use, control weeds, protect profits

Farmers using no-till production — in which soil never or rarely is plowed or disturbed — can reduce herbicide use and still maintain crop yields by implementing integrated weed-management methods, according to a new study conducted by Penn State researchers.

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August 16, 2021

Study of structural variants in cacao genomes yields clues about plant diversity

An exhaustive and painstaking comparison of the genomes of multiple strains of the cacao tree by a team of researchers has provided insights into the role genomic structural variants play in the regulation of gene expression and chromosome evolution, giving rise to the differences within populations of the plant.

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Department of Plant Science

Address

102 Tyson Building
University Park, PA 16802