August 10, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Chair’s Message | New Faculty Interested in Plant Evolution, Greenhouse Gets Makeover

Allan Showalter, portrait

Dr. Allan Showalter , portrait

Greetings PBIO alumni, students, faculty, and staff! It is my privilege to serve as chair of this outstanding department. This newsletter highlights some of the great things that our faculty, staff, students, and alumni are doing. If you are not highlighted in this current newsletter, it may be because you have not let me know what remarkable things you are doing. Please email me at and tell me what you are up to along with your current contact information.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome a new tenure-track faculty member to our department, Dr. John Schenk. Dr. Schenk is broadly interested in plant evolution and evolutionary processes and is particularly interested in staminode evolution, Podostemaceae macroevolution, seed evolution, and the evolution of fruit and seed dispersal. His expertise in plant structure and evolution will further strengthen our ability to teach our students and secure research funding from external agencies.

I also want to congratulate another PBIO faculty member, Dr. David Rosenthal, who was awarded tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. Dr. Rosenthal is a physiological ecologist who studies how plant ecophysiological responses to environmental stressors (e.g., CO2 levels, temperature, drought, acid rain, etc.) affect plant performance and fitness. He has additional interests in invasive species and in the restoration of the American Chestnut.

The PBIO greenhouse, under the able supervision of Harold Blazier, has undergone a $400,000 renovation. Mr. Blazier, along with Dr. Morgan Vis and Andy Howes worked with contractors and Ohio University Design and Construction to create a much better space for growing our plants, which are used in both our classrooms and our faculty research laboratories.

I also wish to highlight that Ms. Ava Heller was awarded the Norman S. Cohn Summer Research Scholarship. This scholarship was made possible by the generous donations of three alumni, Drs. Dean DellaPenna, Ralph Quatrano, and Bob Goldberg. Ava is working in Dr. Sarah Wyatt’s lab this summer on a project related to plants in outer space.

This year’s PBIO graduates also deserve congratulations. It was an honor for me to attend the graduation ceremonies in December and May along with a number of other PBIO faculty, and to wish graduates well as they enter the workforce or continue their academic careers.

I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter and take the time to reach out to a PBIO faculty member, staff person, or student and drop them an email or note. You can find our faculty directory and our staff directory on the department website.  I truly hope to hear from you soon about the interesting projects you’re working on, and I also ask you to consider providing some financial support to our department, big or small, as we have a number of worthy plant biology giving opportunities available for your consideration. In particular, we have needs for a new, state-of-the-art greenhouse, a new department van for PBIO class field trips, and scholarships, research support, and travel support for our undergraduate and graduate students.

We also want to say a special thank you to our recent donors:

  • Dr. Harvey E. Ballard
  • Ms. Thulisiwe N. Beresford
  • Dr. Carolee T. Bull
  • Dr. James C. & Andreè Cavender
  • Dr. Philip Cantino
  • Mr. Andrew Resor Carson
  • Mr. John E. Denti
  • Mr. Thomas A. & Mrs. Kathleen M. Doktor
  • Mr. David M. & Mrs. Marilu B. Enterline
  • Mr. Charles R. Smith & Ms. Jerri A. Garl
  • Dr. Robert H Gray
  • Mr. Gary B. Hermann
  • Dr. Kenneth K. & Mrs. Rebecca A. Kapley
  • Mrs. Marian R Keller
  • Ms. Kristen Nicole Keyes
  • Dr. Brian C. McCarthy
  • Mr. Wayne A. Mietty
  • Mrs. Ella Miller-Thompson
  • Dr. Patrick B. Mikesell
  • Dr. Dean Della Penna
  • Mr. Jeffrey Alan Palmer
  • Dr. Boyd W. Post
  • Dr. Thaddeus R. Preisner
  • Mr. John T. Steinback
  • Mr. Ralph E. Taggart
  • Dr. Arthur T. Trese
  • Dr. Irwin & Mrs. Ana C. Ungar
  • Rev. Dr. Arthur G. & Mrs. Pauline J. Vermillion
  • Dr. Morgan Vis

All the best,

Allan M. Showalter, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair

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