CALS_PlantPath-JeriBarak

Plant pathology is the study of plants and their pathogens, the process of disease, and how plant health and disease are influenced by factors such as the weather, nonpathogenic microorganisms, and plant nutrition. It encompasses fundamental biology as well as applied agricultural sciences.

Plant pathology involves the study of plants and pathogens at the genetic, biochemical, physiological, cellular, population, and community levels, and how the knowledge derived is integrated and put into agricultural practice. Prerequisite to effective research, teaching, and extension in plant pathology is a breadth of interdisciplinary interest and knowledge, in a department and in its individual members, reaching from ecology to microbiology, from meteorology to applied mathematics, and from molecular biology to communication skills.

Plant pathology is a field that thrives in, and makes its greatest contribution to, comprehensive institutions like the University of Wisconsin–Madison where the proximity and complementarity of basic sciences and the other applied agricultural sciences are exceptionally strong.

Undergraduates in plant pathology can choose between two tracks. The plant–microbe biology track has courses in basic math and sciences, including biology, chemistry, and physics, along with upper-level courses in plant pathology, biochemistry, and microbiology. This track is geared toward students who have an interest in receiving a broad education in the basic sciences or plan to pursue a graduate or professional degree. The plant health and industry track includes some courses in basic math and sciences, as well as additional courses in agriculture and economics/management and upper-level courses in plant pathology, entomology and other agricultural sciences. This track is designed for students who intend to work in industry after receiving their undergraduate degree. More information about careers in plant pathology is available from the department.

This major is earned through the bachelor of science degree program.  

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Courses may not double count within the major (unless specifically noted otherwise), but courses counted toward the major requirements may also be used to satisfy a university requirement and/or a college requirement. A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major that are not used elsewhere.

Core Mathematics
Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):5-6
Algebra
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
Core Chemistry
Select one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Introductory Biology
Select one of the following options:10
Option 1 (preferred):
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Option 2:
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
and General Botany
Option 3:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
and Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Core Physics
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Plant Pathology Core
PL PATH 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology4
PL PATH/BOTANY 332 Fungi4
Another Pl Path course above 300 13
Capstone
PL PATH 590 Capstone in Plant Pathology3
Track
Select one of the following:29-39
Plant-Microbe Biology Track
Plant Health and Industry Track
Total Credits67-83
1

Not including PL PATH 375 Special Topics or independent study credits—PL PATH 299 Independent Study, PL PATH 399 Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education, PL PATH 590 Capstone in Plant Pathology, PL PATH 681 Senior Honors Thesis, PL PATH 682 Senior Honors Thesis, or PL PATH 699 Special Problems.

Tracks

Plant–Microbe Biology Track

Additional Mathematics and Statistics
Select one of the following:5
Calculus
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II 1
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Select one of the following:3-4
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2 2
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Additional Chemistry
Select one of the following options:4-8
Introductory Organic Chemistry
and Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory
and Intermediate Organic Chemistry
Elementary Organic Chemistry
and Elementary Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Biology
Select one of the following options:5-8
Option 1:
Biology of Microorganisms
and Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Principles of Genetics
Option 2:
Select two of the following:
Organismal Biology
Organismal Biology Laboratory
Biological Interactions
Additional Physics
Select one of the following:4-5
General Physics
General Physics
General Physics
Plant Physiology
BOTANY 500 Plant Physiology3-4
Plant-Microbe Electives
Select 5 credits from the following:5
Introduction to Biochemistry
Plant Anatomy
Plant Systematics
Vascular Flora of Wisconsin
General Ecology
Introduction to Entomology
Any PL PATH course above 300
Total Credits29-39
1

MATH 171 is a prerequisite for MATH 217.

2

MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1/MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II is a prerequisite for MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2

Plant Health and Industry Track

Biology
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
Core
PL PATH 559 Diseases of Economic Plants3-4
or BOTANY 500 Plant Physiology
Plant Health and Industry Electives
Select 24 credits from at least two different departments from the following:24
Principles and Practices in Crop Production
Cropping Systems
Forage Management and Utilization
Integrated Weed Management
Introductory Ecology
Plant Anatomy
General Ecology
Plant Physiology
Introduction to Biochemistry
Irrigation Systems - Design and Use
Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology
Food, Culture, and Society
Agriculture and Social Change in Western History
Poverty and Place
Sociology of Agriculture
Insects and Human Culture-a Survey Course in Entomology
Introduction to Entomology
Insect Ecology
Introduction to Forestry
Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues
Extinction of Species
The Vegetation of Wisconsin
General Ecology
Forest Ecology
Survey of Horticulture
Sustainable Turfgrass Use and Management
Landscape Plants I
Environment of Horticultural Plants
Fruit Crop Production
General Microbiology
General Microbiology Laboratory
Biology of Microorganisms
Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
Nutrition Today
Comparative Animal Nutrition
Human Nutritional Needs
World Hunger and Malnutrition
Biochemical Principles of Human and Animal Nutrition
Community Nutrition Programs and Policy Issues
PL PATH any course above 300 not already taken for another category
Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use
Soil: Ecosystem and Resource
General Soil Science
Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management
Soils and Environmental Quality
Soils and Landscapes
Plant Nutrition Management
Business
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Introductory Financial Accounting
Introductory Managerial Accounting
Accounting Principles
Financial Reporting I
Financial Reporting II
Taxation: Concepts for Business and Personal Planning
Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics
Farming Systems Management
Commodity Markets
Cooperatives
Agricultural Finance
Economic Decision Analysis
Economic Problems of Developing Areas
Principles of Microeconomics
Principles of Macroeconomics
Communication in Life Science Industries
Managing Organizations
Human Resource Management
Total Credits36-37

University Degree Requirements  

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Define and explain major concepts in the biological sciences including Plant Pathology.
  2. Appropriately use biological instrumentation and laboratory techniques.
  3. Explain and apply the scientific method including designing and conducting experiments and testing hypotheses.
  4. Recognize the relationship between structure and function at all levels: molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological.
  5. Demonstrate a style appropriate for communicating scientific results in written and oral form.
  6. Integrate math, physical sciences, and technology to answer biological questions using the scientific method.

Four-year plan

Sample Plant Pathology Four-Year Plan—Plant Health and Industry Track

Freshman
FallCreditsSpringCredits
MATH 112 or 113 (or STATS, COMP SCI)3MATH 113 or 114 (or STATS, COMP SCI)3-5
CHEM 103 or 1094-5CHEM 1045
First Year Seminar1Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-11
Gen Ed10-11Gen Ed10-8
 8-20 8-29
Total Credits 16-49
Sophomore
FallCreditsSpringCredits
ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  151 or 1015ZOOLOGY/​BIOLOGY/​BOTANY  152 or BOTANY 1305
PHYSICS 103, 201, or 2074-5PL PATH/​BOTANY  3324
Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-9Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-9
Gen Ed10-8Gen Ed10-8
 9-27 9-26
Total Credits 18-53
Junior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
PL PATH 3004GENETICS 4663
Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-14PL PATH > 3000-4
Gen Ed10-14Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-15
 PL PATH 55823
 Gen Ed10-15
 4-32 6-40
Total Credits 10-72
Junior
SummerCredits
PL PATH 55923
 3
Total Credits 3
Senior
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-18Capstone Experience3
PL PATH > 3000-4Plant Health or Econ/Acct/Mgmt0-15
Gen Ed10-18Gen Ed10-15
 0-40 3-33
Total Credits 3-73
Senior
SummerCredits
PL PATH 55923
 3
Total Credits 3
1

Gen-Ed requirements include communications, ethnic studies, humanities, social science, or international studies. See Requirements tab for more details.

2

Students can take either PL PATH 558 in the odd spring or PL PATH 559 in the odd summer

Note: Possible places where students may cut down on courses: COMM-A placement test, COMM-B taken as ZOOLOGY 152, QR-A placement test, AP/IB credits (biology, social sciences, humanities, language, chemistry, physics, math, statistics)

Undergraduate Advising in Plant Pathology

Students in plant pathology are assigned two advisors, the staff advisor (Sara Rodock, rodock@wisc.edu, appointment link) and one of our faculty advisors. Current faculty advisors include:

Dr. Caitilyn Allen
Dr. Jeri Barak (lead faculty advisor)
Dr. Brian Hudelson
Dr. Amanda Gevens
Dr. Mehdi Kabbage
Dr. Paul Koch
Dr. Richard Lankau
Dr. Patty McManus

Undergraduates in plant pathology are required to meet with their advisor before they can enroll for the upcoming term.  A hold will be placed on student records until they meet with their advisor.

For more information about the Plant Pathology major or the department in general, please contact either the lead undergraduate advisor, Dr. Jeri Barak, or the student services coordinator, Sara Rodock. Students with questions regarding lab positions (both paid and unpaid) in plant pathology should contact Dr. Jeri Barak.

Careers and Professional Development

For more information on careers available to plant pathology students please visit our Internship & Job Resources page. For more information on other academic, co-curricular, financial aid, and career opportunities and services available to plant pathology students, please visit the CALS "Building Your Career" page. Students in the major are welcome to make an individual appointment with Sara Rodock, rodock@wisc.edu (appointment link for current UW–Madison students) to discuss career related topics such as career exploration, search strategies, graduate school, and review of application materials (resume, CV, letters, etc.).

Professors

Ahlquist, Paul
Allen, Caitilyn
Bent, Andrew
Clayton, Murray
MacGuidwin, Ann
McManus, Patricia (chair)
Rouse, Douglas

Associate Professors

Barak-Cunningham, Jeri
Gevens, Amanda

Assistant Professors

Kabbage, Mehdi
Koch, Paul
Lankau, Richard
Rakotondrafara, Aurelie
Silva, Erin
Smith, Damon

Faculty Associate

Hudelson, Brian

Wisconsin Experience

Undergraduates majoring in plant pathology at UW–Madison will find an inclusive, welcoming community where professors know their students and are able to provide guidance based on students’ specific academic and career goals. There are numerous opportunities to conduct research with internationally prominent faculty and to take part in the Wisconsin Idea, whereby faculty and students extend the knowledge developed at the university to stakeholders in Wisconsin and beyond for the betterment of society.

Plant pathology offers paid research internships during summer term, as well as paid or credit-earning research opportunities year-round. Undergraduates get a firsthand view of how research is conducted and what it means to be a professional scientist.

By joining the Plant Pathology Undergraduate Club, majors get to know their fellow students outside the classroom. The department provides resources for students to meet experts who lead discussions on a range of topics including cutting-edge research and technology, career options, and how to apply and compete for jobs.