The Department of Horticulture is involved in two of the 10 interdisciplinary projects chosen for spring 2011 academic venture fund awards from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF).

Ecologically-Sustainable Disease Management for Emerging Bioenergy Crops
Promising biofuels feedstocks, such as willow and switchgrass, are being identified for the eastern United States. Sustainable disease management must be developed for plant pathogens that could threaten maximized yields. This research is intended to set the foundation on which scientists in mycology, plant pathology and breeding, and feedstock production and evaluation can ensure predictable futures for crops for which foliar pathogens are the most likely emergent threats.
Investigators: George Hudler (PLPA), Gary Bergstrom (PLPA), Kathie Hodge (PLPA), Lawrence Smart (HORT)
Funding: $70,664
Duration: 15 months

School Gardens: Improving NY State Youth Ecological Literacy, Diet, and Physical Activity
School gardens have received considerable attention as a vehicle to promote sustainability, however there are few well-designed, large-scale research studies examining the efficacy of school gardens in terms of STEM learning outcomes, diet, physical activity, and connection to nature. We will organize a workshop of experts and stakeholders related to school gardens, enabling us to build an interdisciplinary network within NYS. We will also pilot-test and fine-tune instruments, and develop infrastructure to position us as a competitive team for a large, externally-funded study.
Investigators: Nancy Wells (DEA), Brian Wansink (AEM), Jennifer Wilkins (NS), Marcia Eames-Sheavly (HORT), Gretchen Ferenz Fox (CCE)
Funding: $48,127
Duration: 6 months

The awards were announced May 29 and total $705,318. Initiated in 2008, the academic venture fund is designed to stimulate original, cross-disciplinary research at Cornell in sustainability science, particularly work with the potential to involve external partners such as industry, government, foundations and nongovernmental organizations.

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