Austin Lien

Graduate Student
404 Stakman

1991 Upper Buford Circle
495 Borlaug Hall
St. Paul, MN 55108
United States

Dr. Ashok Chanda
  • BS Agronomy University of Minnesota Crookston 2015
  • MS Agriculture Washington State University 2020


Hometown: Fisher, MN

What is plant pathology to you? 

Plant pathology is a lens that allows us to see a hidden, microscopic world that directly and indirectly impacts the daily lives of all. While most goals focus on those who are directly impacted, such as growers and stakeholders of global agriculture, the outcomes provide a foundation for health and prosperity of every individual.

Plant Pathology is a key component in the titanic task of feeding the world. Moreover, plant disease research outputs have the potential to positively change the life of farmers in the regions of the world where agriculture is a mode of subsistence.

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

From Midwest and Pacific Northwest field crops, Rocky Mountain turf, New Zealand orchards, and Hawaiian horticulture, plant diseases have always sparked my interest. I feel beyond fortunate to pursue the study of plant diseases at the University of Minnesota. Being that my family operates a sugar beet farm in Northern Minnesota, studying with the UMN will allow me to work on a project that is very near and dear to me.

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

While at the UMN, I simply wish to help sugar beet growers and stakeholders. I hope my research will answer some valuable questions regarding Cercospora leaf spot and aid in the future management of the disease. Ultimately, I hope to remain in an academic environment, help the individuals who produce the food we all depend on, and increase transparency and education for the consumer.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

Outside of work I enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, golf, mountain biking, snowboarding, surfing, etc. When I am stuck inside I like to play music. I play piano; however, I have been spending more time playing guitar and more recently, mandolin.

Areas of Interest

Cercospora leaf spot, caused by the fungus *Cercospora beticola*, continues to be a challenge for sugar beet growers. My research focuses on the identification of fungicide interactions that impact disease control, relative root yield, and quality for future recommendations in fungicide management strategies. As well as improving fungicide decision-support systems, my research is also aimed at providing insights on epidemiology, population biology, aerobiology, and disease prediction.