UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Beth Gugino, professor of vegetable pathology in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, received this year’s Excellence in Extension Award presented by the American Phytopathological Society. This year’s meeting, Plant Health 2019, was held in Cleveland, Ohio, from Aug. 3 to 7.
The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions by creating, developing or implementing extension-related programs or materials, or who have provided significant leadership in an area of extension plant pathology. The Excellence in Extension Award is the highest honor presented by the society specifically for achievements in extension.
Gugino directs an extension education and adaptive research program that develops and translates integrated management tools to manage important and emerging diseases of the major vegetable crops in the U.S. She is recognized for leading and participating in multi-state programs prioritizing stakeholder relevance and scientific knowledge gaps that improve economic and environmental sustainability.
Gugino’s contribution to extension and research extends beyond the numerous peer-reviewed publications, plant disease management reports and extension-related fact sheets she has produced. In the past five years, she has made 109 presentations at 71 meetings reaching approximately 8,700 stakeholders.
Since starting at Penn State in 2008, she has contributed to or led more than 75 research and extension projects funded by local, state, national and international competitive external grants.
Industry has relied on Gugino to conduct 43 conventional and biofungicide product efficacy trials, evaluating more than 480 treatments on nine host-pathogen systems, which include bacterial diseases of onion, cucurbit downy mildew, powdery mildew, and tomato early blight, late blight and bacterial spot.
She also provides leadership for a statewide effort to get timely pest and disease management information to the plain-sect community through produce-auction informational kiosks.
In addition to serving as co-leader for the Penn State Extension Vegetable, Small Fruit and Mushroom extension program team, Gugino is recognized for leading and participating in multi-state programs prioritizing stakeholder relevance and scientific knowledge gaps that improve economic and environmental sustainability.
She serves as the project director on a large U.S. Department of Agriculture AMS Specialty Crop Multi-State Program titled, “Regional approach to cucurbit downy mildew prevention, monitoring and management,” involving 12 eastern states accounting for 56 percent of the $1.35 billion cucurbits produced in the U.S. This is one example of her efforts to help collaboratively solve problems across state boundaries.
Gugino has leveraged funding from the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant to improve understanding about the biology and epidemiology of bacterial diseases of onion. She also has developed integrated management strategies that growers adopted and are currently using to reduce the disease.
She received her bachelor’s degree in horticulture, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in plant pathology from Penn State. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University, Gugino returned to Penn State as an assistant professor of vegetable pathology in 2008. She was promoted to professor in 2019.
–Matt Black, Penn State University