A native of Saginaw, MI, Mary K. Hausbeck received B.S. and M.S. degrees in horticulture from Michigan State University (MSU) in 1983 and 1985, respectively. In 1990, she received her Ph.D. degree in plant pathology from The Pennsylvania State University under the guidance of Stan Pennypacker. In 1990, she returned to Michigan State University as a visiting assistant professor of plant pathology and extension specialist. Hausbeck was appointed to the tenure stream in 1992 and was promoted to full professor in 2002.
Hausbeck has a nationally and internationally recognized extension and research program that is known for excellence and responsiveness to industry needs. The focus of Hausbeck’s research has been on the biology, management, and epidemiology of vegetable, ginseng, and greenhouse ornamental diseases. She has garnered a total of more than $12,000,000 in grant funds ($6,042,327 in federal research funds, $637,558 in state funds, and $5,572,679 from commodities and industry). Hausbeck has published more than 100 papers in respected refereed journals, many of them coauthored with her students. Her research forms the basis for disease management recommendations as well as contributing new knowledge on the biology and epidemiology of pathogens and their diseases to the science of plant pathology.
Her extension and research programs are seamlessly 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 closely with the IR-4 program to ensure that disease management materials critical for the industries she serves are being tested in Michigan. She has worked with growers who manage small farms as well as those who have hundreds of acres in multiple locations. Some of her research is conducted 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. A forecasting system was piloted in cooperation with an extension educator. This system is now a well-established tool for the industry.
As a leader of pest management strategic plans for several crops in Michigan, she provides the framework for keeping these industries profitable. Other examples of her commitment to these industries include obtaining seventeen Section 18 critical exemptions and five critical use exemptions from EPA for fungicides that have assisted vegetable growers to combat new and aggressive diseases. When cucurbit downy mildew first hit the important Michigan pickling cucumber industry, she quickly redeployed people from her program to evaluate fungicides for efficacy in combatting this new disease. Hausbeck then established local scouting and reporting systems that allowed her to communicate disease threats and recommendations to growers. Her efforts provided clear fungicide recommendations that have been credited with protecting the state’s cucumber/pickle industry that is valued at more than 107 million dollars. Finally, through her organizational efforts, she moved the Michigan asparagus industry to the fresh market, which has increased profits and expanded the industry.
Hausbeck knows how to deliver information to her growers and clientele groups. She has coordinated or contributed to more than 80 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 capsici workshops have provided growers with a better understanding of the pathogen and how best to deal with an increasingly serious disease of vine crops. These workshops 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 350 extension talks in Michigan, more than 170 in other states, and 15 in other countries. Hausbeck has been a prolific producer of extension materials. She has authored 62 magazine articles, coauthored several extensive pest and disease management bulletins, and written more than 300 articles for MSU Extension News for Agriculture for vegetables and for greenhouse crops. She also has authored more than 100 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.
Hausbeck takes graduate education very seriously and has graduated 10 Ph.D. and 22 M.S. students. Eight graduate students are currently in her lab. Her program presents excellent, real-world problems on which students can develop their thesis research and provides them with the background that prepares them for multiple career paths. She also instills a high degree of professionalism in her students and gives them the tools to be successful. All of her students have been placed in excellent jobs at universities, private industry, and government agencies. It is reflective of Hausbeck’s mentoring ability that these students moved into successful careers.
Hausbeck has served APS in several ways, and this further illustrates the respect she has among her peers. Her service to the society included section editor for Fungicide and Nematicide Tests, senior editor for Plant Disease, and member of the APS Awards and Honors and Publications Committees.
Her exceptional service to the vegetable and greenhouse ornamentals industries and to the discipline of plant pathology has been recognized with numerous awards. These include the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty/All University Award from MSU (2014), Excellence in Extension Award from The American Phytopathological Society (2008), Distinguished Faculty Award from the MSU Agriculture Alumni Association (2006), the IR-4 Meritorious Service Award for service to Michigan and the North Central Region (2007), the Alex Laurie Award from the Society of American Florists (2004), and the Outstanding MSU Extension Specialist Award (2002). Mary Hausbeck has also received team awards, including 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.