Dr Luster has been Research Plant Physiologist with the USDA-ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Laboratory at Ft. Detrick, MD since 1988. He served as Research Leader of the ARS Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit from 1997-2015, and RL of the ARS Beneficial Insect Introduction Research Unit from 2009-2016.
A native of New Jersey, he completed all his higher education in North Carolina, including a B.S. in Marine Biology at the University of North Carolina in 1978, and a Ph.D. in Botany from N.C. State University, awarded in 1984. He completed Research Associate postdoc positions at the George Washington University and at the USDA-ARS Photobiology Laboratory in Beltsville, MD, on plant membrane enzymes involved in abiotic stresses, before beginning his position at the FDWSRU in 1988.
His research is conducted at the Ft. Detrick laboratory, which houses a BSL-3 plant pathogen containment facility for research on threatening and emerging crop diseases. Research is focused upon foreign crop diseases. His personal research centers on protein expression in host-pathogen systems, and development of immunoassays to detect emerging pathogens. He recently licensed diagnostic assay reagents for the emerging plant pathogen Phakopsora pachyrhizi, causal agent of Asian soybean rust to a commercial pathogen diagnostics company.