Say Hi to Plant Sci!

Posted: December 7, 2012

Frank recently conducted an interview with the Plant Sciences Advising Coordinator Tarrah Geszvain to find out more about the new Plant Sciences major.
The Department of Plant Science offers the Landscape Contracting, Turfgrass Science, and Plant Sciences majors.

The Department of Plant Science offers the Landscape Contracting, Turfgrass Science, and Plant Sciences majors.

When I came to Penn State in 2010, one of the first people I met was Tarrah Geszvain. At the time, she was one of our ERM advisors, always cheerful, friendly, and helpful. As anxious as I was then, she was always reassuring that college really wasn’t anything to be scared about. Nowadays, as the Advising Coordinator for the Department of Plant Science, her position in the college has changed, but certainly not her personality! I went to meet with her recently, with a few questions about her new job and our upcoming major, Plant Sciences (available July 1). Here’s what she had to say:

What’s your role as the Plant Science Advising Coordinator?

I handle students at all levels. I work especially with first-year students to help direct them to find and pursue their academic interests. Also, when I work with freshmen and undecided majors, I help locate them a specialist faculty adviser, doing research in their area of interest--for example, if a freshman is interested in a career with ornamental trees, I could get him or her an adviser whose research is devoted to that. Also, when time allows, I travel to other schools to promote the college and our department.

What are some things most people don’t know about the Department of Plant Science?

Well, for starters, we have a 600-acre agronomy farm, a 100-acre horticulture farm, and 3,700 ft2 of greenhouses. We also have a green roof research facility. Many of our faculty do research internationally. Dr. Jonathan Lynch is in Africa developing maize and bean plants with increased root depth to help feed people living in arid regions with poor soils. Another professor, Mark Guiltinan, is working to combat cacao disease, which would help save the livelihood of many countries which depend on cacao as an export. We also have a Horticulture Club and a Community Garden Club!

What could someone do with a career in Plant Sciences?

Oh, there’s so much! You could do work with agricultural research, turfgrass management, public gardens, arboretums, zoos and the like, business production and management, marketing, landscaping, plant health, pest management, and cooperative extension (working with farmers to help them produce as efficiently and effectively as possible), to name a few.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Definitely working with students. I usually meet them in their smaller section of the freshman introduction class, which I teach. Then I work with them until they graduate; it’s great.

Do you have any advice for future students?

Choose something that you love. Follow your passions rather than just a career. I realize that’s not exactly a common teaching these days, but I think that’s where you’ll find happiness. If you’re doing what you love, it won’t feel like work.

After I left, I heard Tarrah’s voice down the hall speaking to one of her advisees, “Kate! Come on in! It’s good to see you-–how are you?” If anyone’s living by her advice, Tarrah certainly is.


For more information on this department and what it has to offer, check out