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Engaging Undergraduate Honors Students in Plant Pathology

Kimberly Gwinn: University of Tennessee, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology

<div>Identification of talented undergraduate students interested in plant pathology as a career is a critical need. Most public institutions in the United States have established honors programs, and honors students are selected based on predicted ability to perform at levels above other students in the classroom and in beyond-the-classroom experiences such as undergraduate research. However, this pool of talented students is often not connected with plant pathology. Programming that fosters academic and social development of academically elite students and provides a gateway to our discipline has been developed at the University of Tennessee. This was accomplished through development of curriculum for a minor in Honors Food, Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences. Core classes for the program include freshman seminar, a research ethics, compliance, and methods course, and a 2-semester capstone course sequence culminating in an undergraduate thesis/project. In addition, students are required to take three additional honors courses in their major or minor. A minor in Entomology and Plant Pathology (EPP) is offered. Materials to recruit students to honors and EPP minors are being developed. Resources are being created for faculty on how to assess higher-order thinking skills. Faculty in EPP are encouraged to recruit honors undergraduate research assistants, provide opportunities for their thesis research, and develop embedded honors courses in the EPP minor.</div>