Dr. Jean Beagle Ristaino is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University. She earned her B.Sc. degree in Biological Sciences and an M.S. degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California-Davis. Much of her research work has been on the genus Phytophthora, an Oomycete plant pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine. She conducts research internationally on late blight, a threat to food security. She has used genetic markers to study migration and characterize historic and present day populations of P. infestans. Her research has culminated in publications in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Science. She teaches a class in Tropical Plant Pathology, is the director of the Global Plant Health internship program and leads USAID funded workshops in pathogen diagnostics in Central America. She has served in numerous leadership roles at the university including the faculty senate and the administrative board of the graduate school and nationally with the USDA, NSF and USAID. She is currently serving as a National Academy of Sciences Jefferson Fellow at the State Department. She has communicated findings of her research with the media including CNN, Discovery Channel, radio and numerous newspaper articles. Dr. Ristaino’s research impacts our understanding of emerging plant pathogens, global food security, and the public view of science and scientists.