students in the field

Plant Protection

Plant Protection

Plant protection research studies insect, disease, and weed pests that threaten our food supply and the environment.

Ongoing research efforts to develop disease-resistant plant varieties, to study insect pest behavior, and to understand the emergence of herbicide-resistant weeds contribute to the protection of our crop and ornamental production systems from potentially devastating epidemics and infestations.

Research Areas

  • Entomology
  • Plant Pathology
  • Weed Science

Current Research


Entomology research focuses on the development of management programs for insect pests of field, fruit, and vegetable crops. Entomologists deliver effective integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for producers. Researchers also study insects that may affect biomass accumulation of perennial grasses used as feedstocks for the production of biofuels. Additional research in modeling seeks to improve our understanding of resistance development to transgenic crops such as Bt corn.

Plant Pathology

Plant pathologists study fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, and other microbes that cause diseases of plants. Research focuses on understanding how hosts, pathogens, and environments interact to cause plant diseases and how to control plant diseases. Plant pathology is a prosperous area for basic biological research as well as an integral part of maintaining sustainable, environmentally friendly, agricultural production systems.

Weed Science

Weed science is a very dynamic field of research integrating cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological management techniques to obtain economically and environmentally sustainable weed management systems. Research interests and expertise of the weed science faculty include molecular and biochemical mechanisms of herbicide selectivity, the evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds, weed ecology and biology, soil-herbicide interactions, evaluation of new herbicides, and weed-crop competition. Emphasis is on solving weed management problems through basic and applied research.

Related Research Programs