David Schmale

Professor - Food Safety and Plant Biosecurity

Department Website

Lab Website



Dr. Schmale’s research program is focused on mycotoxins in food and feed and tracking the long distance movement of high risk plant pathogens above crop fields. His research group has developed autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to rapidly detect, monitor, and forecast the movement of agricultural threat agents in the lower atmosphere.


Dr. Schmale's research program bridges concepts in plant pathology, aerobiology (how airborne pathogens get where they are going), and crop and food safety and security. Current research projects in his laboratory include:

  1. monitoring the long-distance movement and survival of airborne plant pathogens, 
  2. investigating the origin and distribution of airborne plant pathogen populations, 
  3. implementing strong monitoring and disease control programs for airborne plant diseases,
  4. detecting toxin-producing plant pathogens that threaten the health of humans and domestic animals, and
  5. preventing the introduction and spread of exotic airborne plant pathogens in the United States.

Dr. Schmale teaches an undergraduate course titled 'Mysterious Mushrooms, Malicious Molds' and a graduate course titled 'Fungal Plant Pathology'. The ultimate goals of Dr. Schmale's research program are to enhance the protection and safety of the Nation's agriculture and food supply and develop new strategies to anticipate, prevent, and respond to agricultural threats of high risk plant pathogens. The ultimate goals of Dr. Schmale's education and outreach program are to provide stakeholders with practical solutions to related problems and foster a multidisciplinary network of valuable research and educational opportunities for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, particularly minority groups. Dr. Schmale routinely conducts training demonstrations for growers, producers, county agents, government officials, faculty, and students.