Plant Pathology Department



Sydney Everhart

Date of this Version



Da Silva KF, Burnham E, Louis J, Golick D, Everhart S (2023) Nationwide assessment of leadership development for graduate students in the agricultural plant sciences. PLoS ONE 18(4): e0279216. pone.0279216


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Leadership development is a universally important goal across the agricultural plant science disciplines. Although previous studies have identified a need for leadership skills, less is known about leadership skill development in graduate programs. To address this, we constructed a mixed-method study to identify the most significant graduate school leadership experiences of scientists in the agricultural plant science disciplines. The survey was deployed to 6,728 people in the U.S. and received 1,086 responses (16.1% response rate). The majority of respondents reported that they were from one of the major agricultural states and employed at one of the agricultural plant science related doctoral universities, industries, or government. Results from this survey suggest that recent graduates were more engaged in graduate school activities that offered leadership development. Key experiences in graduate school were also identified that may be used to develop future leaders. Additionally, respondents reported the greatest barrier to providing leadership development for graduate students was that it is not part of their program curriculum, however current graduate students responded differently, and identifying lack of funding to support experiences as the greatest barrier. This survey also identified the top ranked professional skills considered most important for effective leaders in agricultural plant sciences as well as respondent-driven recommendations on how graduate programs can improve leadership development. Collectively, these results can be used in the future to identify priorities for skill development and opportunities for leadership training among graduate students within the plant science disciplines.