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Senior profile: David Bower

David Bower measuring grapevine photosynthesis with a CIRAS-1 portable photosynthesis system.

David Bower measuring grapevine photosynthesis with a CIRAS-1 portable photosynthesis system.

Fifth in a series of profiles celebrating the Class of 2011.

Majors: Plant Sciences, Viticulture and Enology

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.

Why did you choose Cornell?

I was always interested in plants. As an Eagle Scout project, I renovated the landscaping at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester. And I helped my father convert an apple orchard and cider mill into a vineyard and winery, planting 40 acres of vines by hand and producing our first wines in 2006. (Mayers Lake Ontario Winery.) I knew Cornell was good in Plant Sciences and had started a Viticulture and Enology major, so it was a good match. And if I decided to go the pre-med route I could do that too.

What was the best part of your Cornell education?

Cornell gave me chance to do my own research and get involved as a teaching assistant for four of the viticulture and enology courses. I did wine chemistry research with Kathy Arnink, vine stress physiology research on Riesling and methoxypyrazine research on Cabernet Franc with Alan Lakso. I also worked with Kathy, Ian Merwin and other students to plan and plant Cornell’s first organic vineyard at Cornell Orchards. Some of this research was the first of its kind in my field. This was great for me because of my commitment to research and teaching, and most importantly giving back to field.

What Cornell-related scholarships did you receive?

The Nelson J. Shaulis Award for the Advancement of Viticulture supported my research with Alan.

Who or what influenced your Cornell education the most?

All of the faculty I did research with, especially Kathy. She really took my under her wing and was a great role model. Much of what she instilled in me as a young student has transferred to the present day mostly in the form of my love for research and my commitment to the students and to Viticulture and Enology. Peter Cousins is a great teacher, role model and friend. He spent many hours working with me in a hands-on way to learn the aspects of modern viticulture and basic grape genetics and physiology.

I really liked the hands-on nature of my education here. I was one of the first students to experience all of the aspects of the Cornell Viticulture and Enology program. I was able to develop my own research projects, grow and plant grapevines, harvest the grapes, and conduct experimental winemaking trials based on my own program. I analyzed the wines chemically and physically, and was able to conduct my own research panel from this and teach about my research to a large introductory class as a Teaching Assistant. I could not ask for much more!

What were your main extracurricular activities at Cornell?

I worked as an Orientation Leader and an Orientation Supervisor for New Student Orientation. I spent many hours working with students even after Orientation ended, sharing experiences and helping them through their day-to-day problems. I still keep in touch with many of my students. New-student Orientation took tons of time but it was great for me to be able to share my love for Cornell with all of the new students.

I was also a Social Programming Director in Willard Straight Hall, planning dances, concerts, and weekly events that were attended by many students. I worked for Colleges against Cancer on the programming board, using my time to implement two Relays for Life. I was the Social Programming Director for my fraternity in which I implemented a program in conjunction with the Ithaca Youth Bureau that has raised over $6,000 to date.

And in 2009 I started a company called in2ition music with my friend Kai Keane. We create videos and musical interpretations of electronic music for events all around campus and Cornell. Recently, we developed a show for the Johnson Art Museum’s recent gallery opening. You can find us at

What was one of your greatest challenges at Cornell?

The coursework. It was difficult but rewarding. Also, balancing everything together to make sure I took care of all of my responsibilities.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

I applied to grad schools and eventually want to get a Ph.D. because I’m driven to teach. But first I want to get a job, possibly in Extension, where I can help better the industry and give back to growers.

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