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

July 7, 2022

Harbaugh Faculty Scholars named in College of Agricultural Sciences

Two faculty members in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences have received funding to support the development of innovative curricula under the college’s Harbaugh Faculty Scholars program. Justine Lindemann, assistant professor of community development and resilience, and Ricky Bates, professor of horticulture, received awards under the program, which was created by a gift from Penn State alumnus Earl Harbaugh and his wife, Kay.  

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May 17, 2022

Internet-based precision irrigation system shows promise for fresh-market tomato

An “internet of things” — or IoT — system monitoring real-time data from soil-based sensors to activate an automated precision irrigation setup can conserve water and boost crop production, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

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April 28, 2022

New plant science team gets grants from USDA-NIFA for research on soil microbes

An assistant professor in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has received $950,000 in two competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to lead a team studying interactions between plants and rhizobial soil bacteria, with the long-term goal of boosting forage and crop production while reducing environmental impacts of fertilizer use.

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April 21, 2022

Adding high-flavonoid corn to broiler chickens’ diet may cut intestinal disease

The inclusion of a high-flavonoid corn, developed by a Penn State maize geneticist, in the diet of broiler chickens reduced the incidence and severity of a fatal intestinal disorder known as necrotic enteritis.

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Department of Plant Science

Address

102 Tyson Building
University Park, PA 16802