Jessica Rupp, PhD
I was born and raised in southeast Kansas, in a small town named Pittsburg.
Pittsburg is famous for two things: Pittsburg State University and fried chicken.
When it was time to go to college, the natural choice for me was PSU. I played saxophone in the marching band and jazz band while in college there. As a chemistry major, I tutored chemistry students and served as a teaching aid for organic chemistry I and II, as well as Chemistry for the Life Sciences. Perhaps my most memorable experience while teaching was setting off the silent fire alarms while the class completed an experiment on generating oxygen. It felt like the entire PSU University Police department appeared in the lab. Graduate school selection was a careful process focused on finding just the right program for me. I was ready to move anywhere, but as it happened, I ended up staying in Kansas. I attended Kansas State University for my PhD, working with Dr. Harold Trick and Dr. John Fellers. During that time I also spent a great deal of time shadowing some of K-State’s Extension specialists. While at K-State, I realized Extension was my passion.
I passionately believe in the mission of land grant universities: excellence in research, teaching and Extension. Some view Extension and research as separate components, but I believe this is not true. The relationship is a fluid one, where needs can dictate research and discoveries in the laboratory can lead to new implementations in the field. I believe that Extension plays a critical role disseminating new research findings to stakeholders, enabling them to implement the best management strategies; the ultimate translation of research into practical use. Additionally, Extension plays an important role in communicating the needs of producers to those doing the research. Extension is ever changing, and I believe a successful specialist will be extraordinarily flexible in order to meet the needs of researchers, agents, stakeholders, producers and the community, both regionally and globally.
Montana has always had a successful Extension program, which requires respectful stewardship in order to maintain the strength of the program while continuing to strive to explore unique research, applications and outreach avenues. I believe this will require providing a variety of materials through a variety of methods, both traditional and new. An important aspect of this lies simply in being a good listener, and providing quality service at the level of the individual as well. My role includes serving the campus and community through outreach programs offering both education and hands-on experience. I am also excited to work with the industry to improve disease management. I value the importance of face-to-face interactions to ensure open relationships filled with trust. I believe Extension specialists must develop these in order to develop productive programs. Also essential are other methods of communication through the use of publications, handouts, newsletters, emails, blogs and video blogs offering real-time updates, and appropriate use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Reaching people in a variety of ways will only strengthen impacts.
I enjoy teaching and believe that the roots of Extension will always lie in education. Educational programs need to be uniquely tailored to the audience that will receive them in order to have exceptional impact. There will never be an end to the evolution of education, and I advocate the constant implementation of new methods and variation of teaching. Educators often say that they never stop learning, and the same attitude is essential for Extension and research.
I think a successful research program goes hand-in-hand with the Extension portion of this position. To develop an effective research program, I am first looking at immediate, short-term needs. This type of research can often provide meaningful information in just a few years, such as evaluations of fungicides, or variety trials. A second, over-reaching goal is to develop long-term research designed to answer more complicated questions involving pathogen biology, pathogen-host interactions and epidemiology. This approach too, must be dynamic. Finally, a portion of research should always be dedicated to aggressively pushing boundaries. It is often through this type of research that the greatest achievements can be made.
I am very pleased to be in Bozeman. Please feel free to drop into the lab to see what’s new, or come visit me in my office. I am looking forward to working with each and every one of you!