Jun 21, 2024  
2014-2015 General Catalog 
2014-2015 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences (Graduate Program)

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For information regarding the UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM, click here. 

Program Overview

The School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science (MS) and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. There are three general optional areas of concentration within the degree programs: Agronomy, Horticulture, and Soil Science. Students interested in a particular concentration should contact a graduate advisor for specific requirements.

Students with an agronomic focus concentrate their graduate studies in weed science, crop breeding and genetics/biotechnology, or applied plant physiology. Students studying horticulture may specialize in any branch of horticulture, including breeding and genetics, propagation, physiology, mineral nutrition, weed control, plant growth and development, postharvest physiology, and food processing. Students pursuing soil science study a wide variety of subdisciplines including soil classification, soil physics, soil chemistry, soil fertility, soil microbiology, environmental soil science, and land use/management.

Agronomy, which includes the soil and water environments associated with crop production, is the primary source of food for our world’s population. Agroeconomic activities are very important at the state, national, and global levels. Many opportunities await agronomists with MS and PhD degrees. Positions are available in the private sector as well as in government and universities. The graduate faculty of the school is engaged in both applied and basic research. Most agronomy and environmental management faculty members have joint appointments between LSU and the LSU Agricultural Center. These scientists conduct research and impart education and training to sustain productivity of food, feed, and fiber while maintaining environmental quality with efficient use of natural resources.

Horticulture at LSU has a great tradition. Some of the most important U.S. varieties of sweet potatoes, strawberries, and peaches have been developed at LSU during the past 50 years. Plant breeding remains a significant focus, but there is a new emphasis in woody ornamentals and floriculture. Traditional cultural practices of the past are now modified by a trend toward sustainable agricultural methods with less impact on the environment. In the last decade, physiological research in fruit, vegetable, floriculture, and ornamental production systems has increased. Turfgrass science and management have also become important areas of horticulture research. The horticulture faculty is unique in its strong emphasis on postharvest physiology.

Soils represent one of our greatest natural resources; a source for growing food, fiber, and building materials. Students in soil science are provided hands-on experience with advanced technologies such as inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, GreenSeeker proximal nitrogen sensor, global positioning system, carbon/nitrogen combustion analyzer, and gas chromatograph. Studies in pollution management and spatial/temporal variation in soil properties are modeled with advanced software such as ArcGIS. Students completing degrees in soil science have many career options available to them including: government sector (USDA-NRCS, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality), private sector (consulting, industrial services, wetland delineation, soil survey), and academia.

Environmental management uses scientific information to manage natural resources in ways that will ensure environmental sustainability. Both teaching and research in the School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences are directly related to sustainability and provide graduate students with a background in such environmental management areas as wetlands conservation, water pollution prevention, waste management, pest-management practices, and environmental remediation.

Students who receive advanced degrees in Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences go on to rich and rewarding careers and leave with the challenge of contributing to the world in which they live. Graduates of our school report that their education has well prepared them for their future careers.


Don LaBonte, Director
Maud Walsh, Graduate Advisor
Shelia Rohwer, Graduate Administrative Assistant
TELEPHONE 225/578-2110 or (225) 578-2158
FAX 225/578-1403 or (225) 578-1068
WEBSITE www.lsuagcenter.com/en/our_offices/departments/SPESS/


Applications and supporting materials for all graduate study must be submitted through the online application site for the LSU Graduate School, www.lsu.edu/gradapply. Official transcripts, official test scores, and other materials that come from third-party sources must be mailed to: Graduate Student Services, 114 West David Boyd Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. These paper documents are stored electronically and departments have access to all materials submitted by and/or on behalf of a student applying to graduate study.

Applicants for admission to the MS and PhD programs are required to submit a completed application plus transcripts of all previous college work and scores on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE. Applications should be submitted at least three months prior to the beginning of a new term. In addition, international applicants must submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Peterson’s Test of English (PTE). Applicants for admission to the graduate programs in the School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences must first be admitted by the LSU Graduate School. Generally, in addition to an undergraduate GPA of ≥3.0 on a 4.0 scale, GRE (verbal+quantitative) and TOEFL scores of ~300 and 79 (internet-based test), respectively, are required.

Financial Assistance

In the School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences, both teaching and research assistantships are available to some students. Stipends are competitive with other programs around the country. Depending upon the source of funding, tuition exemptions may apply. To ensure consideration for financial aid, all application materials should be submitted in accordance with deadlines established by the LSU Graduate School. Students holding teaching assistantships may assist in the teaching of a course or teach one to two laboratory sections. Graduate assistants are required to work up to 20 hours per week. Students are assigned to supervisors who may or may not be their major professor.

Graduate Faculty

(check current listings by department by clicking this link)

Niranjan Baisakh (3F) • Molecular biology, biotechnology
Jeffrey S. Beasley (M) • Turf grass management
Patrick K. Bollich (M) • Central Station, agronomy
Edward W. Bush (7M) • Ornamental horticulture
Ronald D. Delaune (3F) • Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute; Chemistry of flooded soils
Kathryn K. Fontenot (3F) • Home, community, school gardening
Lewis A. Gaston (M) • Soil chemistry
Kenneth A. Gravois (3F) • Sugar Research Station; sugarcane breeding
James L. Griffin (M) • Weed science (soybean, sugar cane and corn)
Dustin L. Harrell (3F) • Rice Research Station, Soil chemistry/fertility
Stephen A. Harrison (M) • Small grain breeding and genetics
David G. Himelrick (7M) • Fruit crops
Charles E. Johnson (M) • Pomology and tree physiology/dormancy
Richard M. Johnson (3F) • USDA, geneticist
Collins A. Kimbeng (7M) • Sugar Research Station, Sugarcane breeding and genetics
Jeff S. Kuehny (M) • Floriculture and ornamentals
Don R. LaBonte (M) • Plant breeding/genetics
Benjamin L. Legendre (3P) • Sugarcane breeding
Henry J. Mascagni (3F) • Northeast Research Station; Agronomic production practices
Donnie M. Miller (3F) • Northeast Research Station; Weed science (cotton and soybean)
Carl E. Motsenbocker (M) • Vegetable crops
Gerald O. Myers (7M) • Cotton breeding, genetics
James H. Oard (M) • Rice genetics, biotechnology
David H. Picha (M) • Post harvest physiology
H. Magdi Selim (M) • Soil physics, environmental research
Xueyan Sha (3F) • Rice Research Station, Rice breeding and genetics
Daniel O. Stephenson (3F) • Dean Lee Research Station, Weed science
Prasanta K. Subudhi (7M) • Plant genetics and genomics
Brenda Tubana (M) • Soil fertility
Herry S. Utomo (3F) • Rice Research Station, Wetlands
Maud Walsh (M) • Environmental management, environmental education
Jim J. Wang (M) • Soil chemistry, environmental problems
Eric P. Webster (M) • Weed science (rice)
Ida Wenefrida (3F) • Rice Research Station, Wetlands


    Doctor of PhilosophyMaster of Science

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