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
So, too, has his work with dozens of
graduate students, including 15 Ph.D.
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
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.”