Merger celebration planned for two Iowa State departments

Image of the Advanced Teaching and Research Building on Iowa State University
The department merging celebration will take place at the Advanced Teaching and Research Building at Iowa State University.

AMES, Iowa – Faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends are invited to celebrate the merging of Iowa State University’s Department of Entomology and Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.

The celebration will take place Friday, Sept. 9, from 1-7 p.m. on the north lawn of the Advanced Teaching and Research Building, as well as in rooms 1302 and 1330 ATRB on campus. Tours of ATRB will be offered, in addition to a visit from the Insect Zoo. Several alumni representing the two departments will speak, as well as Iowa State administrators, followed by a barbecue meal, ISU Creamery ice cream and music by the ISU Jazz Band. The speakers include:

  • Scott Hutchins (’87 PhD entomology)
  • Ron Walcott (’93 plant pathology, ’95 MS)
  • Keri Carstens (’04 MS toxicology, ’08 PhD)
  • C. S. Liew (’79 agronomy, pest management)
  • Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen (’88 PhD entomology)
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Daniel J. Robison

More information about the speakers can be found on the event webpage.

Discussions for merging the departments started in 2019. The official merging will take effect Sept. 1, with the new name becoming the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology and Microbiology.

“The merging of these two departments gives us the opportunity to go in new, innovative directions in terms of teaching, research and collaboration,” said Steve Harris, chair of the Department of Entomology and Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. “Faculty in both departments have already been collaborating and working alongside each other in the Advanced Teaching and Research Building, so it made sense to combine these departments in order to strengthen both programs.”

When the Advanced Teaching and Research Building was constructed in 2018, it was designed to house faculty from both departments, some of whom had been previously located in the old Insectary building. The teaching and lab spaces in the new facility have promoted collaboration among both departments’ faculty, staff and students.

“The areas of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology have been and will continue to be a crucial part of the curriculum, research and extension work here at Iowa State,” said Daniel J. Robison, holder of the endowed dean’s chair in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “I’m excited to see these two departments come together into one to sustain their disciplines, to synergize across interests, to inspire, innovate and serve, and to always thrive!”

The Department of Entomology dates back to 1880, when the first course in entomology at Iowa State and in the nation was taught. Over the years, the program has been paired with several other academic programs, including zoology, animal ecology, and fisheries and wildlife. It has functioned as a stand-alone department since 1975. The entomology undergraduate major was renamed insect science in 2009 but was discontinued in 2013. Currently, insect science is offered as a minor to undergraduate students, while master’s and doctoral degree programs are offered in entomology.

The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology was once known as the Department of Plant Pathology, Seed and Weed Sciences. It became the Department of Plant Pathology in 1979, then joined with the Department of Microbiology in 2011. Undergraduate students interested in studying microbiology can enroll in the Microbiology Undergraduate Program, an interdepartmental program administered by the departments of animal science and plant pathology and microbiology. Students pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees can enroll in the plant pathology program or the Interdepartmental Microbiology Graduate Program.

The merger celebration event is free to attend, and registration is kindly requested by Aug. 26. For more information about the celebration, parking options and to RSVP, visit the event webpage.