College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Plant Science & Landscape Architecture

Plant Science Research

In light of a changing climate, rapid conversion of land for human uses, and the need to produce enough food to feed the growing human population, scientists face the daunting task of balancing multiple environmental, economic, and social objectives. Scientists in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture are conducting research to support the development of novel strategies that improve the sustainability of natural, urban, and agricultural systems, protect and restore critical ecosystem functions, conserve and recover endangered species, promote sustainable landscape design and land use planning, integrate plant and soil health management, and maintain plant productivity in the face of global environmental change.

PLANT ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION BIOLOGY RESEARCHERS 

adams

Lea Johnson
Assistant Professor
leaj@umd.edu

Dr. Andy Baldwin

Maile Neel
Associate Professor mneel@umd.edu

gerry

Kate Tully
Assistant Professor
kltully@umd.edu

 

 

kangas

Joseph Sullivan
Professor jsull@umd.edu

   
 
     

PLANT PATHOLOGY AND FOOD SECURITY

The science of plant pathology and food security encompasses many aspects of agriculture that includes plant production and management as well as food handling and preparation.  Efforts within our department combine cutting edge foundational and translational research methods to ensure nutritious and safe food in addition to recreational areas comprised of forests, turfgrasses and ornamentals.   Exciting research opportunities allow exploration in host immunity and pathogen biology, integrated pest management strategies, and ecological research in plant and microbial diversity.   Continued advancement in plant science and the study of plant-microbe interactions will secure crop diversity and productivity for future generations, maintain microbial diversity in agriculture for enhanced sustainability and help us devise strategies to produce and maintain crops in response to environmental, economic and social challenges.

PLANT PATHOLOGY RESEARCHERS 

adams

Priscilla Chaverri
Associate Professor pchaverr@umd.edu

Dr. Andy Baldwin

Kathryne Everts
Professor & Extension Specialist keverts@umd.edu

   
Reginal Harrell

James Culver
Professor jculver@umd.edu

kangas

John Payne
Associate Research Scientist jpaynecp@umd.edu

tilley

Joseph Roberts
Assisant Professor robertsj@umd.edu

ross

Shunyuan Xiao
Associate Professor xiao@umd.edu

 
Assistant Professor
   

FOOD SAFETY RESEARCHERS

There is great interest in improving human health by including more fresh fruits and vegetables into the human diet.  At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to consuming fresh commodities like tomatoes, cantaloupes and leafy greens. To solve this problem, our graduate students conduct field and laboratory based studies to provide the scientific data needed to develop food safety metrics, and determine the best conventional and organic production methods that ensure the safety and quality of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Our students’ research approaches combine tools of microbiology, molecular biology, plant physiology and bioinformatics to test their hypotheses.  Controlled studies focus on Salmonella, Listeria and human pathogenic strains of E. coli.  Our students also ask questions about the role of the naturally-occurring microorganisms in the phyllosphere and rhizosphere, and the role played by the microbiome in the suppression of human pathogens.  They are also curious to know more about plant-microbe interactions, and what bacterial adaptations allow human pathogens to live in association with food crops. How can human pathogens hitchhike and survive on a plant leaf or fruit, a dramatically different environment than their animal hosts provide?   These are all exciting topics.  Answers to these questions will lead to improvements in agricultural production methods, as well as to human health. 

adams

Shirley Micallef
Assistant Professor   smicall@umd.edu

Dr. Andy Baldwin

Christopher Walsh
Professor                  cswalsh@umd.edu

 

INVASIVES AND WEED SCIENCE RESEARCHERS

As the climate is changing, so are the habitat ranges for all plant species. For a given species, the habitat may become more restrictive, so the species is limited to a smaller range, and this loss of habitat is of concern for endangered and threatened species. For another species, the habitat may become more permissive so that the species has a larger range, and this may allow other species to become invasive and weeds to become more successful. The invasive and weed science researchers are addressing these questions to find sustainable solutions that allow native species in natural, built and restored ecosystems and agronomic crops in agricultural ecosystems to thrive, to the detriment of weed species. In order to achieve such outcomes, researchers employ methods and technologies at the molecular level (studying the interaction of herbicides with plant cell molecules), the cellular and physiological level, as well as the whole plant and field level.

adams

Maile Neel
Associate Professor mneeel@umd.edu

Dr. Andy Baldwin

Bill Phillips
Assistant Professor billii@umd.edu

gerry

Burkhard Schulz
Assistant Professor bschulz1@umd.edu

tilley

Wendy Peer
Assistant Professor wapeer@umd.edu

       

 

   

 

PLANT PHYSIOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT RESEARCHERS 

Plants are central to addressing the sustainability of life on this planet. Researchers study the underlying mechanisms of plant physiology, growth, development and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. This research integrates an array of cutting edge approaches in molecular genetics, bioinformatics, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, imaging, biochemistry and electrophysiology in model and non-model systems. The findings allow for novel solutions to the global problems of climate change, water shortage, salt intrusion, as well as the growing demands for food, fuel and fiber for the expanding human population.

adams

Caren Chang
Professor & Associate Chair carenc@umd.edu

Dr. Andy Baldwin

Jose Feijo
Professor jfeijo@umd.edu

gerry

Burkhard Schulz
Assistant Professor bschulz1@umd.edu

Reginal Harrell

Gary Coleman
Associate Professor gcoleman@umd.edu

kangas

Angus Murphy
Professor & Chair amurphy@umd.edu

Stephany

Heven Sze
Professor hsze@umd.edu

ross

Todd Cooke
Professor tjcooke@umd.edu

tilley

Wendy Peer
Assistant Professor wapeer@umd.edu

Weismiller

Jianhua Zhu
Associate Professor jhzhu@umd.edu

 

Zhongchi Liu
Professor
zliu@umd.edu

       

 

 
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