Mary K. Hausbeck was born in Saginaw, MI. She received B.S. and M.S. degrees in horticulture from Michigan State University (MSU). In 1990, she received her Ph.D. degree in plant pathology from Pennsylvania State University, under the guidance of Stan Pennypacker. In 1990, she returned to MSU as visiting assistant professor of plant pathology and was appointed in the tenure stream in 1992. She was promoted to associate professor in 1998 and to full professor in 2002. Throughout her career at MSU, Hausbeck has been responsible for extension and research on diseases of greenhouse ornamentals and a wide array of vegetable crops. Her appointment is currently 60% extension/40% research.
Hausbeck has established an extension and research program in the biology, management, and epidemiology of diseases of vegetables and greenhouse ornamentals that is nationally and internationally recognized for its excellence and responsiveness to industry needs. Her service to the vegetable and greenhouse ornamentals industries is exceptional and has been recognized by numerous awards. These include the Distinguished Faculty Award from the MSU Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association, the Alex Laurie Award from the Society of American Florists, and the outstanding MSU Extension Specialist Award. Hausbeck has also received several team awards, such as the John Hannah Award for Program Excellence from the Michigan Council of Extension Agents and the West Central Region Team Award for Excellence in Extension Programming.
Her extension and research programs are tightly integrated. This is clearly shown by the close interactions she has with growers, consultants, extension educators, and other researchers as she addresses disease problems and possible solutions. She has worked with growers who manage small farms to those who have hundreds of acres in different locations. She conducts some research on grower cooperator farms, and this allows for real-world tests of new disease management approaches and serves as excellent demonstrations for her extension program. An example of this success was working with a grower cooperator to obtain the needed epidemiological data for a forecasting system for purple spot of asparagus. From this one grower, the forecasting system was piloted with other growers in cooperation with an extension educator and now this system is a well-established tool for this industry.
Hausbeck knows how to deliver information to her growers and clientele groups. She has coordinated or contributed to more than 60 workshops and tours. Of note are the workshops she has presented in which the growers receive hands-on experience with the pathogens and diseases that threaten their industries. For example, Phytophthora workshops have provided growers with a better understanding of the pathogen and how best to deal with an increasingly serious disease of vegetables. These require a tremendous amount of planning, but this is typical of the care that she puts into all of her work. She is in great demand as a speaker and has presented well over 260 extension talks in Michigan, 95 in other states, and 8 in other countries.
Hausbeck has been a driving force in the development of five specialty crop strategic pest management plans that evolved out of workshops in which she brought together researchers from Michigan and other states, growers, and government agencies. These plans have been invaluable to the industry and have served as national models for how these plans should be developed. The development of these plans illustrates her ability to effectively bring scientists and the industry together to assess industry needs and determine how best to address these needs. As a result of these plans, she developed several successful USDA grants.
Hausbeck has been a prolific producer of extension materials. She has authored 74 magazine articles, coauthored several extensive pest and disease management bulletins, and has written 319 articles for MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts for vegetables and for greenhouse crops. She also has authored 130 meeting proceedings papers—most of which are for large industry meetings, such as the Great Lakes Expo. These papers ensure that the growers attending the meeting will take home the most up-to-date disease and disease management information.
Her research also forms the basis for disease management recommendations as well as provides the efficacy data that is critical to ensure that the most effective products are available to the growers. She regularly works with state and federal agencies and has obtained 17 Section 18 emergency exemptions and five critical use exemptions from EPA. She works closely with the IR-4 program to also ensure that disease management materials are being tested in Michigan.
Hausbeck has also served APS in several ways. Among these include membership on several committees and a section editor for Fungicide and Nematicide Tests. She also served as senior editor for Plant Disease, which further indicates how well she is respected by her peers. Finally, Hausbeck takes graduate education very seriously and has been a mentor for 4 Ph.D. and 15 M.S. students. Her program presents excellent, real-world problems on which students can develop their thesis research and provides them with the background to follow a career in extension if they so desire. She also instills a high degree of professionalism in her students and gives them the tools to be successful.
Hausbeck clearly understands the needs of the industries she serves and knows how to assist them through high-quality extension that is firmly grounded in research. She has presented 58 invited talks and has published 60 refereed papers and nearly 300 research reports that provide the information used in her extension program. She accomplishes so much high-quality work that a colleague commented that there must be several “Mary Hausbecks” in Michigan. However, there is only one Mary Hausbeck and it is her dedication, organizational skills, and teamwork approach that allows her to accomplish so much.