Outstanding Faculty Award - George Hudler

George Hudler
George Hudler

When it comes to teaching, George Hudler is a wizard. The plant pathologist has dazzled thousands of undergrads who flock to his popular Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds course. And his alchemic mix of science, humor and spore lore has cast a spell on hundreds of others, of all ages, whom Hudler has reached through a book of the same name, plus extensive outreach and public engagement activities.

Hudler didn’t discover his passion for fungi until quite late in his undergraduate career. He began his studies at the University of Minnesota as an engineer and transferred to physics and English before settling into forestry. A required course in forest pathology finally opened his eyes to the wonderful world of fungi, and he has been determined to pass on such transformative learning experiences ever since.

Hudler’s inspiration and innovation in the classroom has been recognized with several awards, including the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, the USDA Northeast Region Award for Teaching Excellence, the Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Phytopathological Society, a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship, a Menschel Distinguished Teaching Fellowship, and the CALS’s Innovative Teaching Award, Professor of Merit Award, and Edgerton Career Teaching Award. He was recently recognized as a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society, home to dozens of other instructors, including a number of his students, who have followed his model to teach similar courses at other institutions.

He is also well respected for his research, which focuses on diseases of trees in residential landscapes, parks, historic sites, city streets and college campuses. They range from diseases that afflict commercial Christmas trees in the Adirondacks to oak wilt in Albany and the tar spot fungus in Ithaca. His work on lethal bleeding canker of European beech has helped save North American stocks of the valuable tree, and recent research into willow leaf rust aims to assist a burgeoning New York biofuels industry.

Through active outreach and research programs, including publication of the biweekly pest management newsletter BRANCHING OUT, Hudler equips plant health care professionals and master gardeners with tools for successful disease identification and management, advocating for practices with the least impact on non-target organisms.

He has received the Award of Merit and the Distinguished Arborist Award from the New York State Arborists Association; a Partnership Award from the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture; an Excellence in IPM Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program; the R. W. Harris Author's Award from the International Society of Arboriculture; and the George L. Good Gold Medal of Horticulture from the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association.

Hudler joined the faculty in 1976 and served as chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and director of the Northeast Regional Center for the National Plant Diagnostic Network for seven years. He is also faculty adviser for Delta Kappa Epsilon.