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DAA: Gary C. Bergstrom

Gart Bergstrom

Gary C. Bergstrom

Ithaca , NY | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2006

As a professor in Cornell University’s Department of Plant Pathology, Gary Bergstrom enjoys the best of two worlds. He can steep himself in science and research, and then surround himself with people through his Extension work. “I enjoy science, discovering something new about nature,” he says. “I also like people and need to be involved in service, in applying knowledge and translating discoveries to others to solve their problems.” Bergstrom’s expertise includes epidemiology and integrated management of cereal and forage crop diseases, seed pathology and seed treatment, host plant disease resistance, and biological control. He earned his bachelor’s in microbiology in 1975 and master’s in plant pathology in 1978, both from Purdue University. His Ph.D. in plant pathology is from the University of Kentucky in 1981. Although he was raised in the city (Chicago), Bergstrom’s greatest satisfaction comes from solving problems for farmers. “It’s not so much the positions I’ve held or the publications I’ve written, it’s identifying a crop variety that’s resistant to a disease problem and developing solutions for those problems faced by farmers that has given me great pleasure.” So, too, has his work with dozens of graduate students, including 15 Ph.D. students. Bergstrom is active in numerous professional societies and has served in leadership positions in the American Institute for Biological Sciences, American Phytopathological Society, and others. His service to people extends to the community, too. As a Purdue student, he volunteered at the county retirement home. He volunteered at a Lexington children’s hospital while working on his Ph.D. In Ithaca, he’s a soup kitchen volunteer. He also enjoys hiking, nature photography, and family times. “My career in science and public service was launched in the classrooms, laboratories, and community life at Purdue University. I am forever grateful. I don’t think too many places would have been as good an incubator.”