Q&A with Peng Tian

Peng is a plant pathologist and director of the MU Plant Diagnostic Clinic.

two men holding a plant in a lab
Peng poses for a portrait in a lab coat in front of his microscope. He is smiling and wearing glasses.
Peng provides essential plant diagnostic services to homeowners, commercial growers and research groups.

What do you do in your current role with the University of Missouri?

I am a plant pathologist and diagnostician working as the director of the University of Missouri Plant Diagnostic Clinic located on campus in Columbia, Missouri.

How long have you worked in this position?

I have been with University of Missouri Extension for 18 months.

What is your favorite part about the work you do?

My favorite part of my work is diagnosing plant diseases to solve plant health problems for commercial growers, homeowners and research groups. I also love to isolate and identify cool fungi, viruses and insects, no matter whether they are pathogenic to plants.

How are you helping MU A&E Extension reach our #2xAg2030 goal?

Peng stands in front of a soybean field and speaks to the audience at a field day.
Peng presents plant diagnostic clinic services during a field day event.

I help MU Extension reach the #2xAg2030 goal by providing my clients with quality diagnosis services in a timely manner. I help growers dissect disease problems and provide proper disease management recommendations. I also assist MU Extension specialists with plant pathology-related technical support and monitor the new and invasive plant pests in Missouri.

What is something your CAFNR and MU Extension teammates may not know about you?

A white piece of paper with bubble letters reading "welcome home dad" and "bug bros!" and drawings of bugs.
A drawing from Peng’s son, Chris, shows “bug brothers”

Although I am a plant pathologist, I love insects very much. My two sons, Chris and Elijah, are bug lovers and they team up with me to hunt insects during weekends or holidays. We call ourselves “bug brothers.”

What is your hometown, place of high school graduation and degrees/ universities?

I was born in Qufu, Shandong Province in China, which is the birthplace of The Confucius. I didn’t follow this philosopher’s path, rather, I went to Shandong Agricultural University to study bioengineering. After receiving my master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, I went to The University of Georgia and received my Ph.D. in Plant Pathology.