Featured Alumni

Learn more about what our alumni are doing throughout the world:   


Featured Alumni

Joseph Byrum - Global head of product development for Syngenta

Linda Hanson - Research Plant Pathologist and Adjunct Associate Professor



Fall 2017

Name: Linda Hanson ''

Professor Linda Hanson knew for a long time she wanted to work with plants, but during a mycology course Hanson soon became enthralled with fungi. Hanson’s work primarily revolves around how pathogens affect field crops, with some work on the interaction with different disease management strategies and vegetables.

Currently, Hanson is researching fungal pathogens of field crops. “I am interested in the diversity of fungal pathogens and how fungal diversity affects disease and crop management, including interactions with host diversity, crop rotation, and other management practices,” Hanson said.

Throughout her career, two research projects stand out to Hanson as her best work. Hanson found mechanisms of biological control in biocontrol-active fungi. This research opened a new area of research for fungi as biocontrol agents and has been cited over 150 times.

Another proud moment for Hanson was her research on the diversity of Fusarium species infecting sugar beet and the genetic variability in a major pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum. “One of the proudest moments was when a grower told me that some of the information we had provided helped to save his farm,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s colleagues in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences have helped her tackle big questions. “I enjoy having a diverse group of colleagues who are interested in working together,” Hanson said. “There are so many great people working in different areas.”


Winter 2017 

Joe Byrum - Syngenta

Name: Joseph Byrum

A degree from the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences gave notable alum Joseph Byrum the essential analytical and intellectual tools to succeed in a growing biotechnology industry. 

Byrum credits PSM’s emphasis on strategic thinking to his success in his role as Syngenta’s global head of product development.

 “The balanced curriculum grounded in quantitative training provide the background to succeed,” Byrum said.

Syngenta is a global biotechnology company that works to create resources to help farmers attain global food security. With a rapidly growing population, feeding the large impending population requires researchers to create ways to produce more food without the use of shrinking natural resources.

MSU’s growth and presence in the global community provides students an opportunity to understand complex global issues and solutions.

“MSU certainly broadened my perspective and helped pave the way so I could succeed by enabling a more vertical trajectory, multiplying my impact as a thought leader, scientist, strategic thinker and manager,” Byrum said.

Byrum has always been an avid learner and understood the importance of a quality education. His education at MSU honed in on his critical thinking and leadership skills, providing him with a path to success.

“My experience at MSU, complemented by my business experience, allowed me to operate in roles of increasing responsibility,” Byrum said.

As a product development leader at Syngenta, Byrum has learned how to be an impactful leader to his colleagues from his MSU education.

His comprehensive idea of a leader is, “someone who does what’s right, sets a positive example, admits when they’re wrong and rises above the details to paint a picture that can be delivered with excellence,” Byrum said.