Dr. Katherine L. Stevenson, professor of plant pathology at the University of Georgia, was born in New York, NY and attended Cornell University, where she received BS, MS and PhD degrees – all in Plant Pathology – in 1978, 1986, and 1990, respectively. After joining the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia in 1992, Dr. Stevenson began teaching a graduate- level course in Plant Disease Epidemiology (PATH 8310), her area of expertise. As part of her efforts to develop this course, Dr. Stevenson began informal discussions with several colleagues who were teaching similar courses at other universities about teaching approaches and sharing ideas for laboratory exercises in epidemiology. In 1997, these efforts culminated in publication of the first edition of Exercises in Plant Disease Epidemiology, which included seven exercises developed by Dr. Stevenson for use in her own course. Dr. Stevenson and Dr. Michael Jeger (Imperial College, London, UK) recently edited the second edition of this book, published in 2015, which also includes three chapters by Dr. Stevenson. The first edition of this book contained a unique collection of exercises in plant disease epidemiology that have been valued both as a teaching resource and as research tools by plant pathologists around the world. The second edition of the book promises to be even more popular than the first.
In addition to laboratory and computer exercises that she uses to provide students with hands-on experience in analyzing epidemics or quantifying pathogen populations, Dr. Stevenson introduced class discussions as an integral part of her epidemiology course. As part of these discussions, each student is assigned one pathosystem and uses literature-based case studies based on that pathosystem to explore various epidemiological concepts that parallel lecture topics throughout the course. Presentations are kept short and informal to encourage group discussion. Based on course evaluations, students consistently rate the discussion sessions as "very valuable" in increasing their understanding of epidemiology and enhancing their professional development.
Dr. Stevenson is a dedicated and enthusiastic instructor who cares deeply about her students and sincerely wants them to succeed in the classroom and beyond. She encourages students to ask questions during and outside of class and is always willing to spend extra time with a student who may be struggling with a difficult concept or assignment. She has attended several teaching workshops and many statistical analysis workshops and revised the course accordingly to provide students with the most up-to-date methods and content. Dr. Stevenson has made substantial revisions each time the courses were offered to provide students with the most up-to- date information and to illustrate concepts with examples from current scientific literature. She has also made an effort to effectively use available technology in a way that enhances student participation and learning. Students have commented that Dr. Stevenson is “excellent”, an “awesome instructor”, “very knowledgeable, approachable and willing to teach”, “extremely well organized”, “gave us a comprehensive understanding of epidemiology”, “emphasized the big picture very well” and “connected concepts from other classes”. Another student commented, “This was a great class! It really got me interested in epidemiology”.
In 1997, Dr. Stevenson's reputation as an outstanding epidemiology instructor led to an invitation as one of three instructors that included Drs. Len Francl and Lee Campbell of a 1-week "crash" course in epidemiology for personnel from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine unit. Later, she was invited by the University of Florida (UF) Plant Pathology Department to teach a 3-week, 3-credit graduate-level course in epidemiology in 2007, 2008, and 2009. The course included daily lectures and hands-on computer exercises and was very intense, but was also very well received by the students at UF.
In addition to the graduate course in plant disease epidemiology, Dr. Stevenson also taught courses in Introductory Plant Pathology (PATH 3530), Diagnosis and Management of Plant Diseases (PATH 4280/6280), and Field Plant Pathology (PATH 8000), and has given numerous guest lectures on Fungicide Mode of Action, Fungicide Resistance and Management, and Plant Virus Epidemiology in several courses at UGA.
Dr. Stevenson served as major advisor (or co-advisor) to 13 MS and 3 PhD students, and served on the advisory committees of 17 MS and 19 PhD students at UGA, and one Doctor of Plant Medicine student at UF. She served as a member of and chaired the college Undergraduate Affairs Committee and served as Undergraduate Coordinator in the Department of Plant Pathology from 1997 until 2004. She currently serves on the UGA Tifton Campus Curriculum Committee and has served as an advisor for the Agriscience and Environmental Systems major on the UGA Tifton Campus since 2006. She served as a mentor for the Georgia Internship for Teachers Program for several years and worked with K-12 teachers to incorporate plant pathology principles and practices into development of lesson plans for science classes at the middle and high school levels.
Dr. Stevenson has been an active member of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) for 34 years and has served as an Associate or Senior Editor for APS journals Phytopathology, Plant Disease and the online journal The Plant Health Instructor (PHI). She served two 3-year terms as Editor-in-Chief of PHI and the APS Education Center, an international online resource for instructional materials related to plant pathology. As EIC of PHI and the Education Center, Dr. Stevenson expanded the Editorial Board to include a Senior Editor to solicit new Case Studies and another Senior Editor for development of new APS Feature Articles, and oversaw the addition of many new and updated articles and other instructional materials to the APS Education Center. She also served as a member of the APS Office of Education for 6 years following its establishment in 2012.
Dr. Stevenson's demonstrated excellence in classroom instruction, development of exercises and other instructional materials, editorial service and leadership of the APS Education Center, and most of all -- her dedication and commitment to students -- make her well qualified to receive this Excellence in Teaching Award.