Featured in: DPM Spring 2018 Newsletter
Q: Why did you choose to enroll in the DPM program?
A: I was always fascinated by plants, their physiology, disorders and diseases. Research can be quite absorbing, but what I enjoy is a career built around symptoms and diagnostics.
Q: What is your current occupation, and how has your DPM degree aided you in the tasks and responsibilities as sociated with your position?
A: Currently I am a consultant at Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc. We are located in the heart of California agriculture. In season (February-October), on any given day I may get called to look at symptoms on virtually any temperate or Mediterranean crop you can name: cotton, corn, tomatoes, alfalfa, citrus, almonds, grapes, stonefruit, or walnuts to list the most common ones.
There is plenty of routine crop health to sustain the business in terms of plant nutrition sampling and recommendations. I diagnose damage from salts and other abiotic disorders, nematodes, diseases, herbicide drift and occasionally insects. There is a whole separate industry for pesticide recommendations here. I get called when farmers and pest control advisors (PCAs) see symptoms they can’t understand or identify. It sounds like the description of a Doctor of Plant Medicine, doesn’t it?
Q: From a personal standpoint, how has your DPM degree influenced you?
A: This doctoral program gave me the interdisciplinary framework I wanted to further my career, find a job I love at a good company, and build a professional reputation that serves me well (as far as I know). When I talk with Ph.D.s, they’re siloed by their disciplines, by their research foci. That statement isn’t necessarily criticism. The goals are different.
Q: Are there any challenges that your DPM degree has helped you overcome?
A: In the eight years since finishing my doctorate, I have not met with any professional challenges compared to those I faced in grad school. The background in the different disciplines gave me what I needed, and more, to meet all the local certifications I needed to work in California. The PCA exams were cake. The Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) exams were straightforward.
Q: Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for current DPM students?
A: Enjoy grad school while it lasts! Soak up all the science you can! Enjoy the properly referenced presentations! Take electives outside your comfort zone. Try to make it to an APS or ESA meeting before you finish. Beg your committee for an RA position if you haven’t already.
Otherwise, the worst vice is advice. If any student or alumni reading this bit wants advice on a specific situation or career track, the best contact info for me is on the Dellavalle website. I’m happy to listen.