Meet A Plant Pathology Graduate Student: Eric Otto

November 16, 2015

Meet Plant Pathology Graduate Student Eric Otto

Eric Otto
Ph.D. Student

Advisor: Bob Blanchette

Previous Degree: B.S. Forest Resources, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 2010

Hometown: Lester Prairie, Minnesota

What is your research focus?

My research is focused on Heterobasidion root rot of pines. This pathogen is one of the most important in conifer forests in North America because of the root rot and tree mortality it causes. Although this root rot disease is present in other parts of the United States, Heterobasidion irregulare is a new invasive disease in Minnesota. The research will focus on determining the distribution of this pathogen in Minnesota, study its biology, and evaluate new biological control methods.

What is your favorite fungus?

Laetiporus sulphureus (chicken of the woods)

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

My hobbies include long distance running and biking, fly fishing, hiking and looking for different forest fungi. When I am not exploring the outside world, I also enjoy playing the guitar, cooking, and reading a variety of different books (history, science, novels, etc).

What is plant pathology to you?

Plant pathology to me is something of great importance. I feel the general public sometimes overlooks that plants can have numerous problems such a diseases, pests, and abiotic stresses. It is very important to research ways to protect plants so that they can thrive. My focus is in forest pathology and having healthy forests and trees is of utmost importance.

Why did decide to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota? Tell us about your path to Plant Pathology.

I obtained my Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota, so I was familiar and comfortable with the landscape of the U of M. It also would have been beneficial to go to another school, but probably the main reason I decided to attend the U of M was the opportunity to work with my current advisor. I worked in my advisor's lab as an undergraduate and took the course he teaches as well. I view him as one of the best in his field and was elated to get the chance to work with him again.

What do you hope to accomplish in your time at the University of Minnesota, and what are your goals for the future?

I hope to obtain a Ph.D. in plant pathology and provide valuable research relating to my thesis project and other research areas in my lab. After I graduate I hope to work in the field of forest health.