Valerie Mellano, Chair
Harmit Singh, Graduate Coordinator
|Gary S. Bender
A. James Downer
Richard S. Kaae
Peggy S. Perry
Graduates from the Plant Science major can look forward to an extremely wide array of career opportunities in California's growing horticultural, agronomic, and fruit industries. These careers also include many areas that provide support to these industries such as landscape irrigation, water management, soil science and conservation, agricultural biology, entomology, plant biotechnology, postharvest physiology, and environmental protection of water, farmlands, open space, and landscaped areas.
Increasing urbanization in many parts of California has created the need for professionals educated in the urban landscape, urban agriculture, and urban/rural interface issues. Students in landscape development focus on production and management of landscapes that are attractive yet functional, conserve water, have lower maintenance requirements, and serve the needs of society. Students also concentrate in areas of nursery management, turfgrass, sports and golf course management, arboriculture, propagation and pathology. Many large and small landscape design, development and maintenance companies in the local area and across the nation provide internships and job opportunities for students pursuing careers in the green industry.
California leads the nation in the production of over 350 crops. Over the past few decades production has shifted significantly from field and cereal crops to specialty fruits, vegetables, and horticultural crops with our curriculum following that trend. Employment opportunities in this field are numerous. In addition to commercial tree and crop production management, students are prepared for careers in pest control advising, the seed and nursery industry, produce marketing, postharvest physiology and agricultural chemicals. Students interested in organic production of food have the opportunity to pursue coursework in sustainable agriculture.
Many important career opportunities support commercial food, nursery and landscape areas. Graduates enter careers that protect our natural resources, the urban landscape and food production systems. Students pursuing studies in Landscape Irrigation Science design modern irrigation systems, provide irrigation water management and develop and implement best management practices that improve efficiency and protect our valuable water resources in California. Soils are the basis for all of our food, fiber and landscape developments. Students pursuing careers in this area study conservation, environmentally sound fertility practices, and modern analysis methods to assist growers and landscape designers. Agricultural biologists are experts in pest detection and prevention managing populations of insects, vertebrate pests, weeds, and plant diseases. Many graduates enter into careers in environmental health, crop management advising and regulatory enforcement work, via agricultural commissioners, public health specialists, and homeland security.
Biotechnology has had a profound impact on the plant science industry over the past few decades. Many students study crop and plant improvement via plant breeding and genetic engineering. Annually several of our graduates pursue graduate education in this area along with studies in plant pathology, seed physiology, entomology, soils and water management, and environmental conservation. Students pursuing graduate studies have an excellent combination of advanced science combined with a sound background in plant science.
The Department is home to two major centers, AGRIscapes, and CTILT, the Center for Turf, Irrigation and Landscape Technology. AGRIscapes is an educational center devoted to food, agriculture, and urban environment education. The centerpiece of this complex is the Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch, which markets all of Cal Poly's fruit, vegetable and nursery production along with California agricultural products. Set on 40 acres, AGRIscapes contains experimental gardens, u-pick fruit and vegetables, and a visitors' center that highlights the Kellogg history and exhibits that demonstrate the importance of agriculture and the green industry to our daily lives. CTILT has numerous turfgrass, landscape and irrigation demonstrations and serves as the primary research center for these areas.
The Plant Science Department has excellent support facilities and staff to enhance "hands on" education. The Department maintains over 1400 acres of diversified farmland producing deciduous and sub-tropical fruit, vegetable, and agronomic crops. Over 40,000 square feet of greenhouses support research and student activities in nursery production, hydroponics, citrus pest management, and specialty crop culture. This is also the home to the Raymond Burr collection of Cattleya and Cymbidium orchids. Laboratories supporting education and research include a seed physiology lab, irrigation science lab, CIMIS weather station, soil science lab and turfgrass physiology lab. Other support facilities include the fruit and vegetable packinghouse, tractor shop, and ornamental horticulture unit.
Students have increasingly greater opportunities to conduct research projects with industry sponsorships. Many agricultural problems need field and laboratory investigation, and the Plant Science students have greatly increased their participation in these projects over the last three years.
Students of the Department are involved in a wide variety of non-curricular activities. Professional organizations sponsor 4 active clubs within the Department. Competitive judging teams travel and compete in inter-collegiate competitions in horticulture, turfgrass, irrigation, crops, and soils, and are among the most competitive in the nation. The Department employs a large number of students who assist with nursery and farm operations, retail farm store operations, and as research assistants with faculty. Opportunities are available for enterprising students to manage their own crops and projects.
CoursesLandscape Irrigation SciencePlant SciencePlant Science - Graduate