Dr. Patricia A. Sarvella, 50, an Agriculture Department research geneticist, died of cancer Tuesday at Prince George's General Hospital.

Since 1965, she had been with the animal science research division of the Agriculture Research Service in Beltsville.

Born in Waukegan, Ill., Dr. Sarvella received bachelor's and master's degrees from Western Reserve University and earned a doctorate in genetics from North Carolina State College.

In 1956 and 1957, she studied in Lund, Sweden, under a fellowsship from the American Association of University Women, of which she was a member.

Shen then spent another year as a post-doctoral fellow at Washington State University in Pullman. She was an assistant associate agronomist and professor at Mississippi State University from 1959 to 1965.

Dr. Sarvelia, who lived in Laurcl, was a former vice president of OPEBA, a professional organization of Agriculture Department employees. She was associate director and awards head of the Prince George's Science Fair Association.

She also was past president of the Maryland Division of AAUW, program chief of the Washington Academy of Science and lieutenant governor of District 16 of the Pilot Club International.

Dr. Sarvella belonged to the Genetics Society, the American Genetic Association and the National Presbyterian Church.

She is survived by a brother, John R. Sarvella, of Alexandria.