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Jean Williams-Woodward

“What is wrong with this plant?” and “Can you look at these images?” are the two most common questions Jean Williams-Woodward gets daily as she helps county Extension agents across Georgia diagnose plant problems via phone, email, text messages, and even FaceTime. It is this interaction with county agents, as well as Georgia growers and students that is the best part of Jean’s job as an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Plant Pathology. Jean has been with UGA for over 25 years and currently has a 70% Extension and 30% teaching appointment. She has statewide Extension responsibilities providing plant disease diagnostics and disease management recommendations for commercial ornamental plants and trees in nurseries, greenhouses, and landscapes, as well as Christmas trees, alfalfa and other legume forages, and hemp. She teaches courses in Diagnosis and Management of Plant Diseases (PATH 6280), Clinical Plant Pathology (PATH 8300), and Ornamental Pest Management (PATH/ENTO 4360/6360). Jean also coordinates the non-thesis, interdisciplinary Master of Plant Protection and Pest Management (MPPPM) degree program, the Horticulture/- and AES/MPPPM DoubleDawg program, and the undergraduate certificate in Plant Health Management. She is also currently serving as the Department of Plant Pathology’s Extension coordinator.

Jean’s love of plants and working with people started in high school while working at a large independent garden center in Baltimore County, Maryland. Jean then moved to Laramie, Wyoming to attend the University of Wyoming to major in Range Management before switching majors as a senior and obtaining a B.S. in Crop Science. She continued at the University of Wyoming and obtained her M.S. in Plant Pathology studying stem and foliar nematodes in alfalfa. While in Wyoming, she also worked for Albany County (Laramie) as a county Extension horticulturist. Jean continued her education in St. Paul, Minnesota and obtained her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Minnesota working on a root disease of garden peas. In Minnesota, Jean also worked in the homeowner plant problem diagnostic center. The experience Jean gained from working with diverse crops and helping homeowners and growers identify horticultural and plant disease problems was a benefit in working with the diversity of plants and plant problems seen within Georgia’s green industry. There is never a shortage of new disease problems affecting ornamental plants. Jean’s current research and extension projects focus on understanding and managing boxwood blight, rose rosette virus disease, and Bot canker of deciduous trees in nurseries.

Jean met her husband, Richard, in Minnesota when they shared an office as graduate students in Plant Pathology. Richard is now an elementary school teacher in Clarke County. As much as they tried to instill a love of plants and plant diseases to their sons, Jed and Wyatt, they failed. Jed graduated from Berry College with a B.S. in Biology/Environmental Sciences. Wyatt is a UGA student currently studying Geography.