Departmental Seminars

Fall Semester 2021: 12:00 pm - 12:50 pm, RITA 103 and via Zoom*


11/22/2021: Lou Hirsch, Ph.D., Department of Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky

Suffering and Salvation Through the Study of Plant Disease

Modern Americans suffer a profound disconnection from their food supply, and have come to depend on cheap, accessible, and uniform-looking produce to always fill grocery shelves. However, the convenience of globalized export networks and streamlined supply chains expose consumers to disruptions caused by changing weather and pests ranging from weeds, insects, and microbial pathogens that cause disease. Plant diseases impact every crop and have profoundly shaped the course of human history as much as they drive innovation.  From the Jewish Torah and Roman pantheon to satanic influence in the European Middle Ages and witchcraft during the colonization of the Americas, plant-pathogenic microbes have caused social upheaval and untold suffering throughout human history.  Despite the sophistication of modern agriculture, many indispensable crops are increasingly imperiled by the combined stresses of global climate change and ever-virulent pathogens. This seminar will explore some important historical examples of plant disease to help contextualize modern epidemics that are driving the commercial extinction of many people’s favorite foods.


*The CofC community may email Matt Rutter for more details and for a Zoom registration link prior to the seminar.