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Cornell Plantations welcomes new director


Christopher Dunn

Christopher Dunn

Reposted from CALS notes:

Wide sandy beaches, cool sea breezes and lush tropical vegetation… Noted botanist and conservationist Christopher Dunn is leaving all that behind for the blustery climes of upstate, NY when he assumes his duties as the newly appointed Elizabeth Newman Wilds Director of Cornell Plantations on April 1. Dunn, who succeeds long-time director Don Rakow who stepped down last May, will say goodbye to the sunny skies and rich volcanic soils of the Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawai’i – Manoa, where he served as director and helped to revitalize a 193-acre tropical rainforest and botanical garden. Dunn comes to Cornell with an extensive background in botanical garden administration, fundraising and conservation, having also previously served as executive director of research at the Chicago Botanic Garden. At Cornell Plantations, he will take the helm of Cornell’s renowned complex of 3,500 acres of botanical gardens, arboretum and diverse network of 43 nature preserves, with 70 full and part-time employees and a $2.8 million operating budget.

“Plantations is an integral part of Cornell, serving as both the largest laboratory and richest classroom on campus, while furnishing the university with a unique botanical character unlike that of other institutions of higher learning,” said Dean Boor. “I am confident that Christopher’s depth of experience and passion will foster new opportunities for Plantations to enhance its conservation mission while continuing to promote the enrichment and well-being of the entire Cornell community.”

Conservation and community engagement will be key items at the top of Plantations’ agenda under Dunn’s leadership.

“More and more, [traditional botanical gardens] are getting into conservation, and the relevance we have in our communities is being driven around 21st century issues like climate change,” Dunn said. “Gardens have new opportunities to become significant and authoritative voices in contemporary environmental issues, if we can continue to seamlessly knit our garden programs together and into the social fabric of our communities.”

See also: Cornell Chronicle [2013-02-05]

Alan Taylor receives ‘JumpStart’ award

Alan Taylor

Alan Taylor

Alan Taylor professor, Department of Horticulture, received one of the five Cornell Center for Materials Research JumpStart awards for the Spring 2014 program. This program is funded by Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), designed to assist New York State small businesses develop and improve their products through university collaborations.

Taylor will collaborate with Omniafiltra LLC, Beaver Falls, NY, to test recycled fiber and seed combinations to determine the optimal nutrients, seed concentrations, paper densities, etc. that will produce a seed containing paper with excellent biodegradability and seed germination.

They said it: Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

“This foundation of information is of great use for those around the world seeking to breed improved grape varieties. It’s extremely important that this collection be preserved well into the future.”

Bruce Reisch, grape breeder, Department of Horticulture quoted on (the website of Nature, the international weekly journal of science February 5, 2014) in a story about the uncertain funding to relocate France’s Domaine de Vassal vineyard.

The so-called “Louvre of grape vines” is a 138-year-old collection of 7,500 accessions from 47 countries, representing 2,300 different grape varieties, including wild species, rootstocks, hybrids and mutants important for maintaining the genetic diversity of cultivated grapes.

Read the whole story: Grapevine gene bank under threat.

Interview with Melissa Kitchen

Melissa Kitchen

Melissa Kitchen

As part of the Garden Talent series on her blog Gardening with Confidence, author Helen Yoest interviewed Melissa Kitchen, graduate student in the Public Garden Leadership Program.

Read how Melissa came to love plants and gardening and pursue education and a career in horticulture: Garden Talent: Melissa Jane Kitchen.

Bob Sweet, 1915-2014

Bob Sweet

Bob Sweet

Robert D. Sweet (MS CALS ’38, PhD CALS ’41) died January 30, 2014, at his residence in Jacksonville, N.Y., just shy of his 99th birthday. The emeritus professor and former chair of the Department of Vegetable Crops (a precursor to the Department of Horticulture) “was among the first generation of weed scientists and a giant in vegetable crops at Cornell after World War II,” says Steve Reiners, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture.

“Bob was a very accomplished weed scientist and supporter of all things horticultural,” says Marvin Pritts, chair of the Department of Horticulture.  “He was active in the department well after his retirement and did not hesitate to share his opinions with me, or the dean, or the university president.  He did not suffer fools gladly when it came to issues that involved science and agriculture, or university politics.”

“Bob was one of our founding members and a true legend in the field of weed science,” says Greg Armel, president of the Northeast Weed Science Society (NEWSS). Bob was the Society’s second president, serving in 1949 and 1950, received the NEWSS Award of Merit in 1975 and became a NEWSS fellow in 1979.  “In fact, his name became so synonymous with NEWSS service and student education that our NEWSS graduate student award shares his name,” adds Armel.

Bob was also very active in the Weed Science Society of America, serving as WSSA’s first business manager and first editor of the journal Weeds.  He was named a WSSA fellow in 1974.

“Anyone who knew Dr. Sweet well will remember him as a great scientist, teacher, and friend.  He was intelligent, engaging, kind, respectful, and thoughtful toward others.  He was not afraid to champion causes and did so with great passion and respect.  He was in short a true gentlemen and pioneer in the field of weed science and he will be missed by all who knew him, says Armel.

I briefly shared an office with Bob when I started working at Cornell in 2000. I knew him as the father of herbicides in vegetable crops, and I asked him how he got started on that road. Before World War II, he explained, farmers relied almost exclusively on mechanical cultivation to control weeds in vegetable crops. But with the war, there was a shortage of farm labor to drive the tractors to pull the cultivators to kill the weeds, and farmers were resorting to untried chemical methods that were neither particularly safe nor effective. Bob’s contribution to the war effort was to apply science to figure out how to adapt herbicides used on grain crops to control weeds in vegetables. It was his way of fighting fascism.

“Bob was lucid, engaging and caring right up until the end,” says Pritts, who visited Bob the Sunday before he died. “He was a real character in the best sense of the word, and those of us who knew Bob will miss him greatly.”

–Craig Cramer

Grant appointed NYSIPM director

Jennifer Grant

Jennifer Grant

From Chris Watkins Associate Dean and Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension:

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Jennifer Grant as director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University. Jennifer has previously served as an Ornamentals and Community IPM Educator, Community IPM Coordinator, Assistant Director, and until now as Co-Director of the program with Curtis Petzoldt. In this role, Jennifer and Curtis have excelled in managing the NY IPM program which affects every area of the state. While maintaining excellent research and extension capabilities in agriculture, the program has expanded to address new challenges in community IPM. I am confident that Jennifer will continue to grow this critically important program that connects campus and statewide research and extension to individuals and communities around New York State.

Jennifer joined NYS IPM in 1989 after receiving BS and MS degrees in entomology from the University of Vermont, and later earned her Ph.D. in entomology at Cornell University. While at Cornell, Jennifer has worked extensively in many areas of IPM including turf grass, schools, and IPM on recreational lands. In her current and previous roles she has developed expertise in all areas of agricultural IPM. Jennifer has nearly 170 extension, technical, research, educational and media publications to her credit and is widely recognized in the IPM field nationally and internationally. She received the Entomological Society of America’s Eastern Branch Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management in 2011. Her golf course IPM research and demonstration work conducted at Bethpage State Park over the last 13 years has helped influence golf course managers to minimize the use of pesticides on many golf courses in New York and the US.

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