Adrienne Gorny observes plants in a greenhouse at Purdue University.
Adrienne Gorny observes plants in a greenhouse at Purdue University.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Adrienne Gorny’s favorite plant is a sick plant. That’s because she is passionate about plant pathology, the study of plant diseases.

Gorny, a senior studying plant science from Canton, Mich., has spent her undergraduate career at Purdue University learning about plant diseases and how to treat them.

She shared her experiences, including insights on her research and plans for the future, with AgriNews :

Q: Why did you decide to go to Purdue?

A: When I decided I wanted to go into plant sciences, I did a lot of research on a lot of different schools. I found that Purdue had an excellent reputation. When I visited, I fell in love with campus.

Q: Have you always loved plants?

A: I have. I’ve always loved gardening and being outside. I knew that whatever career I’d end up with I wanted to be able to do field research outside.

Q: Has the Botany Department been a good place to grow?

A: Yes. We are a small department. Everyone is really close. Everyone knows each other’s names. It really feels like home.

Q: What’s your favorite plant?

A: My personal favorites are dahlias, just because they are so colorful and have big blooms. But really my favorite kind of plant is a sick plant because I’m really interested in plant pathology, which is the study of diseases. Every plant can get multiple diseases, so there is a lot to study.

Q: What diseases do you study?

A: I’m interested in diseases of agronomic — vegetable and fruit — crops. Things we eat. We can’t afford to have these plants getting sick or else we won’t have any food to eat.

At the lab I work in here at Purdue, we use corn as a model organism to study how the diseases progress and what genes are involved with resistance and how the genes change under certain conditions. That’s mainly what we’re looking at.

Q: Where do you do research?

A: We do summer field research — that’s usually May through August. In the off season we are always working in the lab. There’s a lot of samples to process.

Q: How has your journey at Purdue been so far?

A: I’ve loved it. I couldn’t have asked for a better undergraduate education.

Q: What are you doing after you graduate?

A: I’m going to Cornell University to do graduate work, and I’ll be studying plant pathology of vegetable crops. After that I really want to do teaching and research. I want to investigate plant diseases and share what I’ve found through teaching, especially Extension work.

Q: What clubs are you involved with?

A: I’m involved with the Botany Club and Billiards Club. The Botany Club is a lot of fun because it’s a group of students who are really interested in plants, and you don’t have to be a plant science major to be in the club. We have engineers and math majors. We do plant-themed activities and just went to the Chicago Botanical Garden to see the Orchid Show. It was so awesome.

I really like playing pool because it’s a relaxing activity for me. I’ve met a lot of great people outside the College of Agriculture that way. We host tournaments and travel to schools around the area who are hosting tournaments. It’s a lot of fun.

Q: Do you do research during the school year?

A: Yes. It really teaches you time management to take classes and do research at the same time.