Dr. Ray Hammerschmidt officially retired from MSU 1 July 2022.

Ray Hammerschmidt had formerly served the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in various capacities which include Interim Extension Director, Plant and Pest Diag, Lab Director. We thank him for his service and wish him well in his retirement.

Dr. Ray Hammerschmidt officially retired from MSU 1 July 2022. 

Ray joined the MSU faculty in 1980, upon earning  his BS and MS degrees in biochemistry and plant pathology, respectively, from Purdue University and his PhD in plant pathology from the University of Kentucky. His research has focused on the biochemistry of resistance and acquired resistance to diseases of cucurbits, potato, soybean and Arabidopsis, with emphasis on host defense responses. 

His many notable achievements include: being named a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society in 2007, serving as the (only) chair of the Plant Pathology department, and helping to successfully merge with Crop and Soil Sciences to form PSM. Ray has served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal of Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology and is currently serving as an Executive Editor of Pest Management Science.  He has also been Associate Editor of Phytopathology and a Senior Editor for APS Press, Director of the North Central Plant Diagnostic Network, Coordinator of MSU Plant Diagnostic Services, and Scientific Advisor for Project GREEEN, a program he strongly supports for its “direct response to the needs of industry.” Ray’s commitment to agriculture in Michigan was recognized by the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, which awarded him for Distinguished Service to Agriculture in 2021. 

In his career spanning more than 4 decades, Ray has mentored more than 20 graduate students and at least ten postdoctoral research associates. Ray has always actively engaged in undergraduate and graduate education, teaching courses – and still teaching – his last course this semester Fall 2022. “In fact Brian Horgan took my Plant Biology course when he was an undergrad here,” which both remember fondly. “I have always had a deep appreciation for teaching along with research,” Ray says, as he recalls Dr Joe Kuć, his mentor at both Purdue and the University of Kentucky. 

Ray has been an “awesome mentor to our undergraduate students,” says Dr Karen Renner, “[whom] you hired to work in your lab over the years—which was always a great place for someone who is thinking about a career in agriculture and doesn't know their fit yet.” Ray has been a great mentor to our graduate students too, Karen says,  “Always words of wisdom in difficult situations or help designing research projects.”

Long-term colleague Dr. Jan Byrne came to MSU as a graduate student in 1993. “Ray was on my graduate committee,” Jan says. “Over the years he has worked hard to create and support a network that benefits diagnosticians through increased funding and professional development opportunities. “ 


Ray’s official retirement date was July 1, 2022 but he has been wrapping up projects, teaching plant pathology one final semester, and serving as a panel chair for Project GREEEN. In retirement Ray looks forward to spending more time with family, exploring Michigan and other parts of the country, and working on family history.


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