CAES Department of Plant Pathology
Leader of the Path
After nearly two decades helping farmers combat diseases impacting Georgia’s most prominent fruit crops, Professor Harald Scherm has been appointed head of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department of Plant Pathology.
Scherm, who has served as CAES assistant dean for research for the last six years and as graduate studies coordinator in the department, came to the University of Georgia in 1996 after graduating from the University of California, Davis, with his doctorate in plant pathology and completing two years of postdoctoral work in soybeans at Iowa State University.
He’s worked mostly with blueberry and peach crops during his career, and considers his support of Georgia’s blueberry industry and mentoring of successful graduate and postdoctoral students among his greatest professional achievements.
The CAES plant pathology department offers one of the largest plant pathology graduate programs in the country. An integrative discipline encompassing the plant, microbial and environmental sciences, the department takes a holistic approach to the study of plant pathology; other, similar departments have lost disciplinary breadth, according to Scherm.
Researchers and Cooperative Extension faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology have broad interests in terms of the crops that they study and in problem-solving. This diversity is something that Scherm would like to maintain and foster moving forward, he said.
He will also work to expand research funding opportunities for faculty and graduate students, recruit more high-level researchers to the department and foster collaboration within the department and across CAES and UGA.
“Plant pathology is a discipline with a strong tradition, but it is also evolving in terms of the types of students we attract, the jobs our graduates take on, the funding sources that enable research and Extension and, of course, in the science itself,” Scherm said. “One of the most important tasks of departmental leadership is to anticipate change and to help the department embrace it.”
Scherm replaces John Sherwood, and will continue acting as interim assistant dean for research until his replacement is hired.