Interactive Sessions - Kids' Tech University (KTU) at BGSU    
Dr. Karen Lynn Snover-CliftFebruary 14, 2015
A mighty oak tree is killed in the forest; DNA can tell us who did it.

An interactive session led by Dr. Karen Lynn Snover-Clift

Director, Cornell University, Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic,
Associate Director, Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network (NEPDN),
National Quality Manager, NPDN


Phytophthora ramorum is an exotic pathogen that was first noticed in California when the mature oak and tanoak trees starting dying in the mid-1990s. It has a wide host range that includes over 120 trees and shrub species that are found in natural environments and garden beds. Surveys for P. ramorum across the US, began in 2004 when a large California nursery discovered that they were accidentally shipping the pathogen across the country in plants destined for gardens. Phytophthora kernoviae, is a new pathogen found in Europe with the potential to be even more damaging than P. ramorum. While it has not yet been found in the United States, plant detectives have a monitoring program in place to look for diseased plants that might be carrying this pathogen, so that they can be destroyed. The emerald ash borer was first detected in Detroit area in 2002 and now has spread into Canada, Ohio and adjacent states killing 95% of all the ash trees. Our modern world actually makes it even easier for such events to occur. Transporting goods across the world means unwanted hitchhikers can survive their journeys and become established in areas where they are not native. Plant disease diagnosticians, serve the role of detectives in this field, and are now using DNA analysis to identify harmful pathogens in natural environments.

Karen Snover-Clift has been the Director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic (PDDC) of the Department of Plant Pathology at Cornell University since 1998, the Associate Director of the Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network (NEPDN) since 2002 and the NPDN National Quality Manager for the STAR-D Laboratory Accreditation Program since 2010. As Director of the PDDC, she is responsible for overseeing the diagnosis of plant diseases on a wide range of plant species, such as woody ornamentals, herbaceous plants, fruits, vegetables, turfgrasses, and field crops. She also conducts large scale surveys searching for harmful, introduced pathogens of high concern.

Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University in Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture. She became interested in plant pathogens during her undergraduate work and returned to Cornell, to complete a Masters of Professional Studies in the Department of Plant Pathology. As director of the clinic she also provides training on the basic of plants disease to members of the horticultural industry, master gardeners and the general public.

February 2015 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Bowling Green State University community.