Beattie Named Interim Chair of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University

January 28th, 2020

Gwyn Beattie has been named interim chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Iowa State University.

Beattie, the Robert Earle Buchanan Distinguished Professor of Bacteriology for Research and Nomenclature, began her new duties Jan. 15. She succeeds Thomas Baum, who served as department chair since 2005 and has returned to the faculty of the department. Greg Tylka, professor of plant pathology and microbiology and director of the Iowa Soybean Research Center, will serve as interim associate chair of the department.

Gwyn Beattie joined Iowa State University in 1995. She is widely recognized for her research on the ecology and genomics of plant-associated bacteria and as a leader in developing the field of phytobiome science. Her awards include the Iowa Board of Regents Award for Faculty Excellence in 2018. Her leadership positions include serving as chair of the Public Policy Board for the American Phytopathological Society and on the board of directors of the International Alliance for Phytobiomes Research. Beattie earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carleton College and a doctorate in cellular and molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Greg Tylka joined Iowa State University in February 1990. His areas of research focus include the biology and management of plant-parasitic nematodes, the study of soybean varieties resistant to the soybean cyst nematode and the effects of nematode-protectant seed treatments. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology at California University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in plant pathology at the University of Georgia.

The Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, one of 15 departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State, is housed in the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building and includes 20 faculty and 34 staff. The department co-administers the undergraduate major in microbiology with the Department of Animal Science and offers a graduate degree in plant pathology. It currently has an enrollment of about 126 undergraduate majors in microbiology and 45 graduate students in plant pathology and several interdepartmental majors. Graduates enjoy high placement rates in academia, industry and government positions. The department has a strong record of accomplishment in extramural funding — from FY2014 to FY2018, faculty and staff successfully brought in more than $17.8 million.

Key Iowa State University Extension and Outreach programs connected to departmental leadership include the Iowa Soybean Research Center, the Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) Coalition the ISU Integrated Pest Management (IPM) team, the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic (PIDC) and the Seed Science Center.


Gwyn Beattie, Plant Pathology and Microbiology, 515-294-5571,
Ann Robinson, CALS Communication Service, 515-294-3066,