Thomas L. Rost, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Plant Biology
College of Biological Sciences
University of California
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616





Tom's Home Page


My career at UC Davis started in 1972, but the pathway to Davis was not exactly a straight one. I really didn’t connect well to academia until graduate school and in fact my 11 grade English teacher in high school did recommend that I not pursue college. I did anyway and was admitted to St. John’s University in 1959. As a first generation college student I had no real advice to follow outside of one Uncle telling me to not have a ‘big head’ now that I was going to college. But with lots of work helped by being in a men’s university tucked inside a pine forest I did graduate and the steps to UC Davis are all outlined in my CV.

This new webpage is intended to explain what I’ve been doing since retirement in 2006 but I should outline here briefly what I did in the years before. I was hired to teach Plant Anatomy (Botany 105) which was taught previously by Katherine Esau, who was the most famous plant anatomist in the world, then Elizabeth Cutter, also famous, and then me with very little experience. After two years in the US Army as a Captain in air defense artillery, I did my PhD at Iowa State University then two years at Brookhaven National Laboratory and I was theoretically ready to proceed.

Getting started at UC Davis was difficult, but the department was supportive and I was able to attract some students along the way, in fact 17 graduate students and 12 post-doctoral students. Our research focused on plant structure and development resulting in about 160 research publications and several books. Being a professor was a wonderful job, never perfect, but wonderful.

Activities Since Retiring in 2006

Since retiring from the Department of Plant Biology in July 2006 I have remained active at UC Davis on recall continuously since 2007.  My part time jobs have been various and interesting starting in 2007 in the office of University Outreach and International programs where I worked on issues including visitor housing, mini-grants program, faculty international affairs database and other activities.  In 2008 I was called to serve, by the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, as the Interim Chair of the UC Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program.  This was a federally funded program that offers nutrition education programs throughout the state of CA and also all other states.  The UC Davis program was in serious trouble caused by lack of oversight and the theft of thousands of dollars by the office leader.  My function was to restore the program during Federal, State, UC and UC Davis audits and to meet with extension workers to assure them that the program would survive.  That was a difficult job. 

In 2009 I was approached to participate in a USAID sponsored program in Afghanistan to conduct an assessment of academic programs in agriculture at Kabul University.  I joined a team from UC Davis, Cornell and Purdue, traveled to Kabul and conducted an assessment of the agriculture faculty.  This was followed by two other trips to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2013 to Kabul and Herat to work on curriculum development and a mini-grant program.

Starting in 2009 I joined the CAES International Program Office part time and this initiated extensive travel especially to Pakistan.  In Pakistan we worked on two USAID projects – (AIP) Agriculture Innovation Program along with CIMMYT and (CAS) Center for Advanced Study.  During the period 2009 to 2018 I traveled to Pakistan 12 times working on graduate student training, curriculum development, research programs, and several workshops on different topics, some of them are linked to this page.  Other projects followed including trips to Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Morocco and other countries. 

In 2012 and 2015 I received two Fulbright Senior Specialist grants to Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia and to Yezin Agricultural University, Naypyidaw, Myanmar.  In both places I conducted program reviews of academic programs.  I conducted program reviews also in Vietnam at Hanoi Agriculture University and at Nong Lam University, in Hochiminh City, and most recently in 2019 I received a grant from Academics without Borders to assist Nong Lam University with upgrading their agriculture journal for Scopus Indexing.  During 2019-20 I was the grants coordinator in Egypt to assist in creating a research grants program as part of a new USAID project with Cornell University, but this program has been terminated.

Plant Anatomy Database


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