Doctor of Plant Health at UNL     

The world critically needs more sustainable production systems for food, fuel, fiber and landscapes. The Doctor of Plant Health (DPH) program is a professional program that offers an exciting opportunity to those who want to be leaders and make a difference in these productions systems. Graduates from the program are in high demand; we are experiencing 100% employment upon graduation.


Do you have a passion for plants and understanding all aspects of plant production systems?

Do you want to become a leader in improving the sustainability of food production or landscape systems?

Do you want a career applying science for practical solutions to difficult problems?

Are you entrepreneurial and desire to set yourself apart with a unique multidisciplinary understanding of plant production?

If you answered these questions positively the Doctor of Plant Health (DPH) program may be for you!

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Ready to Apply? Application Process
Standing left to right: Dr. Anne Vidaver, Ali Loker, Dr. Jeff Bradshaw

Congratulations to Ali Loker

On Thursday, May 11, 2023, DPH student, Ali Loker, was the inaugural recipient of the Anne Vidaver Plant Health Student Excellence Award. Ali was nominated by Dr. Chuck Francis for going above and beyond the required DPH curriculum. 

"I have known Ms. Loker since she first arrived on campus to begin the DPH curriculum, and she was a teaching assistant in my class in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems while also taking the class for credit. As in all her classes, Ali excelled in this one and was especially helpful to the many undergraduate students from Rwanda who were enrolled. She demonstrated strong empathy for these visiting scholars as well as other students in the class and contributed to their learning environment. Ali helped with grading many written exercises and was positive in comments, as well as supportive for all students in the class during round-table discussions. She was intent on urging shy students to speak up in class when they were hesitant due to studying in a language not comfortable to them, and in a participatory learning environment which was new to many.

Ali prepared and presented a lecture on the value of considering One Health as an important perspective in dealing with farming systems and built on her previous study in sociology by taking a different view of farming as a ‘human activity system’. One of her written exercises for the class was later submitted and published in an Agroecology journal. This was one of three papers she has published while a doctoral student (that I am aware of), two of which focused on creative learning methods during the COVID-19 epidemic and challenges of keeping students engaged during this time.

In addition to these teaching and research activities, Ali had the opportunity during two intern experiences with Gerber and with Arbor Day Foundation to apply the principles of One Health in the field through interactions with farmers engaged in vegetable production and in assessing soil health in forestry plantings. One of these experiences led to a job offer which she recently accepted to work with landowners pursuing improved soil health through their management practices with support from the foundation.

Thus, Ali has expanded her competence in teaching, research, and outreach which will make her a valuable employee with multiple skills who can contribute to strong research-based recommendations. Of all the students I have worked with in the DPH program, she is among the most competent and ambitious, with a strong desire to help farmers and others achieve their production goals while keeping in mind the environment and building soil health as a foundation for long-term productivity and conservation of soils.

Ms. Loker has been an outstanding student in the classroom and in the field, and in addition has volunteered with other groups in the community while pursuing her degree as a full-time student. She would be an excellent choice for the inaugural Vidaver Award and has set the bar high for other students in this important professional program." - Dr. Chuck Francis


The Anne Vidaver Plant Health Student Excellence Award was established to recognize the contributions from Dr. Vidaver in developing and establishing the Doctor of Plant Health (DPH) Program at the University of Nebraska. Her commitment to its central principles that encompass the education of high-level professional practitioners has been paramount to the establishment and success of the program.

The Anne Vidaver Plant Health Student Excellence Award recognizes a Doctor of Plant Health student who demonstrates excellence above and beyond that demanded through the required curriculum of the DPH Program. Demonstrated activities for consideration include teaching, extension, research, leadership, and other outreach and professional development activities. The evaluation process for this award will be carried out by an awards committee at the direction of the DPH Director.

This award will be awarded on an irregular basis, but no more than annually, to students showing exceptional accomplishments that are demonstrated above and beyond the regular requirements of the program curriculum. The monetary value of this award may vary due to the availability of funds. The level of funding will be determined by the DPH Director for each award cycle.

The application process will be laid out by the DPH Director when the call for nominations is circulated.

Ear of corn inside a circle with the words I see dead plants

I See Dead Plants

ISU Industry Extension Specialist, Edward Zaworski, interviews Dr. Jeff Bradshaw on his latest podcast episode of I See Dead Plants

Regenerating agroecosystems by overcoming human exceptionalism in designing for increased equity of benefits from ecoservices

Recent article by DPH student Ali Loker and Dr. Charles Francis published in Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems - Regenerating agroecosystems by overcoming human exceptionalism in designing for increased equity of benefits from ecoservices