Donors, Friends, Alumni and Advocates Make all the Difference

Thank you to all donors, friends, alumni and advocates for your support of plant pathology.

Our department has been blessed by a history of engaged and generous alumni and friends. Many of our friends, alumni, emeriti and current faculty have been exceptionally generous in providing financial support for our mission. Existing and emerging public-private partnerships are providing opportunities to fund our graduate students and support research. And extensive support from our commodity and stakeholder groups enable extension programming, research, and student training that aligns with the needs of Minnesota. At the same time, our many friends advocate at the college, University, and state government levels for support of higher education in general and plant pathology in particular. Our donors, friends, alumni and advocates make all the difference and are absolutely critical partners in everything we do.

This fall we celebrated the generosity of our donors, advocates, alumni, and friends at the grand opening of the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Collaboration Center and the Borlaug Commons. We had a lovely evening reconnecting with old friends, listening to live music, and enjoying food and drink. It was a wonderful opportunity to say “thank you” to the many, many people who have supported our research, teaching, and Extension mission in plant pathology.

During a brief presentation, Department Head Jim Bradeen highlighted the impacts of donor generosity on every aspect of our mission:

Supporting student research

Zennah Kosgey Plant Pathology Graduate StudentThis year, Zennah Kosgey was named the Norman E. Borlaug International Agriculture Fellow. Zennah is pursuing her Ph.D. with Professor Ruth Dill-Macky. Financial support from the Vaala-Henry Endowment (in support of the Norman E. Borlaug Fellowship in International Agriculture and the Stakman-Borlaug Center (SBC) for Sustainable Plant Health) will enable Zennah to complete her coursework at the U of M and pursue small grains research in her native Kenya.

Providing students with industry and international experiences

Plant Pathology Graduate Student Justin StantonGraduate student Justin Stanton has been supported by a fellowship from Bayer Crop Science. Justin will soon complete his M.S. degree in plant pathology under the direction of Assistant Professor Madeleine Smith and Professor Ruth Dill-Macky. Justin’s training has included field work at the University of Minnesota Northwest Research and Outreach Center (Crookston, MN), coursework and lab work in St. Paul, and a research internship in Uruguay to collaborate with plant pathology alumna Silvia Pereyra.

Helping MN hops grow

Helping MN Hops GrowDonors and stakeholders have supported research led by Assistant Professor Angela Orshinsky in partnership with a burgeoning Minnesota hops industry. By working on growers’ fields and with industry leaders like Mighty Axe, Orshinsky and her team are developing knowledge about disease management and translating those findings into grower recommendations.

Improving soybean breeding

Improving soybean breedingResearch led by Professor Jim Kurle to develop consistent disease resistance screening protocols for soybean is supported by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. Integrating undergraduate research opportunities, Jim and his team aim to identify genetic resistance to the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum to improve soybean breeding efforts and long-term disease management. 

Land O' Lakes, Inc. Collaboration Center and the Borlaug Commons

The Plant Pathology Borlaug CommonsThe Land O’Lakes, Inc. Collaboration Center was created by the generosity and advocacy of dozens of donors to the Plant Pathology Library Fund, CFANS student fees and a generous financial gift from Land O’Lakes, Inc. The transformation of the traditional Plant Pathology Library to a space ideally suited for modern student learning and public engagement in plant pathology is consistent with the evolving nature of libraries in the age of electronic content delivery. The new space provides a physical testament to the impacts of friends and donors. 

Future needs

Plant pathology future needsAt present we are also seeking financial support to transform the dated, poorly functioning conference room adjacent to the Land O’Lakes, Inc. Collaboration Center and the Borlaug Commons into a modern teleconferencing facility. We also seek funding to renovate the Plant Disease Clinic, which has provided Minnesota homeowners, farmers, other agricultural professionals, and researchers with sound plant disease diagnostic services since 1956.