Department Chair's Welcome Statement

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Headshot of Erik Ervin, chair and professor in Plant and Soil Sciences

It’s my pleasure and honor to welcome you to the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (PLSC) at the University of Delaware. Our department includes many dedicated and talented people with expertise ranging from horticulture and landscape architecture, to environmental soil science, to plant molecular biology and biotechnology. The impact of our work is felt regionally, nationally and internationally, through the success of our students, staff and faculty. We are Land-Grant Fierce, valuing access, affordability, and excellence for the citizens of Delaware and beyond. As such, we are committed to creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive departmental culture that welcomes, values, and respects all members of our community. View our: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Page

As you get to know our department and academic programs you will find yourself in a welcoming and academically rigorous environment. Given the grand challenge of feeding nine billion inhabitants while preserving environmental quality, there are tremendous demands on both plants and soils in today’s world. This is creating many and varied job opportunities for our graduates.

I encourage you to explore our website for more information about all that our department has to offer. Our faculty and staff welcome the opportunity to interact with the public and our stakeholders, and if you have additional questions, please contact us directly and/or schedule a campus visit.

Dr. Erik Ervin
Chair and Professor

Our students are trained to excel in a wide array of career options related to sustainable landscapes and food production, the environment, soils, and water quality, biotechnology and genomics. Students with skills in these areas are in high demand, with professional opportunities exceeding the number of graduates. We offer three majors: Plant Science where students gain a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) and have the freedom to specialize in Horticulture, Agronomy, Plant Pathology, and/or Plant Biology; an interdisciplinary B.S. in Sustainable Food Systems; and a nationally-accredited Bachelor’s of Landscape Architecture (BLA).

We have a student-to-faculty ratio of almost four-to-one, providing excellent research and internship opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. We get to know our students very well through our classes, advising, and research projects. Our academic environment is highly conducive to learning, with well-equipped laboratories, an extensive botanic garden, farm, and ecology woods, state-of-the-art greenhouses, computer facilities, and areas for studying and socializing. We have affiliations with individuals at major nearby institutions and companies that also provide unique opportunities for learning. Recent graduates from our department are in a broad spectrum of careers including positions as landscape architects and designers, laboratory technicians, soil scientists, graduate and post-graduate research scientists, park rangers, golf course superintendents, estate managers, faculty at other universities, greenhouse and nursery production specialists, and agronomists.

Our department offers master of science (M.S.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in the plant and soil sciences. Two graduate areas exist in the department, namely: (1) plant science which includes the areas of cellular/molecular biology, breeding, genetics, and genomics, pathology, physiology, anatomy, landscape design, horticulture, crop science and weed science; and (2) soil science which includes chemistry, fertility and management, physics and hydrology, microbiology and biochemistry, environmental microbiology, soil and water quality, and soil formation and biogeochemistry. Our graduate faculty are recognized experts in their fields of study and deeply dedicated to providing comprehensive mentorship to their students. 

Our faculty members are well recognized for research and their scholarly work, including four named chairs and numerous scientific society fellows. We also promote innovative teaching methods and individualized student advising. We’re active in public and professional service, delivering novel and innovative findings and practices to our stakeholders and in our fields of expertise.  Our department has approximately 30 tenure-track faculty and a number of extension professionals.  We currently have over 100 undergraduate majors, and 60 graduate students.