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I currently teach two one undergraduate courses related to infectious diseases, and will resume teaching a graduate level course in Plant Pathology in Spring 2018:

  • Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems (PLPPM 2950) [2017 Syllabus]
  • Ecology and Evolution of Plant-Pathogen Interactions (PLPPM 4020) [2018 Syllabus]

Both courses are taught using a “flipped classroom” approach with practically no lecturing. Instead, readings, videos, audios, tutorials and other out-of-class exercises prepare students for coming to class to discuss material they learn on their own. Class time is used for discussion and a variety of other student-centered interactive activities that reinforce their out-of-class learning. One of the goals is for students to learn how to read and understand primary research literature. Regular in-class discussion of research in the biology of infectious disease or plant pathogens is done in small, structured-reading groups. Success with this teaching model was recognized in the form of the 2014 Innovative Teaching Award in the Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Phytopathology Society. Both awards were made jointly to me and my former co-teacher Eric Nelson.

Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems (PLPPM 2950)
Fall semester, 3 credits

[2017 Syllabus]

In this course we examine and discuss current concepts and trends in infectious disease biology, assessing our basic understanding of human, animal, and plant diseases and their impacts on one another. The nature of disease, the causal agents, host defense, mechanisms of transmission and strategies for management are remarkably similar among humans, animals, and plants. These basic principles that underpin all of disease biology are rarely integrated into a formal undergraduate or graduate course. Students think about and discuss infectious diseases in ways they have likely not thought about before and will hopefully come to appreciate the importance of a pathogen-centric view of disease in understanding human and environmental health.

Ecology and Evolution of Plant-Pathogen Interactions (PLPPM 4020)
Spring semester (alternate years), 3 credits

[2018 Syllabus]

This course has been substantially revised (and renamed) from its previous offerings. It will be offered in Spring 2018 with the main emphasis on responses of pathogen populations to plant disease resistance. Topics will include the evolution of virulence, coevolutionary interactions of plants and their pathogens (particularly in gene-for-gene systems), and durability of resistance.


small reading group

Small, structured-reading groups are a major component of these classes in which students learn how to read and interpret primary research literature.

students in cafe