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Remembering Robin Bellinder

Robin Bellinder

Robin Bellinder

From Steve Reiners, Horticulture Section chair:

Friday, we received the sad news that our colleague and friend, Robin Bellinder passed away unexpectedly.

Robin Bellinder received her Bachelors from Michigan State University and her Masters and Ph.D. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  In 1984, she joined the Cornell University Horticulture Department as an Assistant Professor, with a program focused on weed management for vegetable crops.  Robin was a national and international leader in her field.  She was the author of more than 80 research publications and more than 200 publications focused on growers.  She was the past President of the Northeastern Weed Science Society, and in 2005 was named the recipient of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Applied Research.

She was mentor to numerous graduate students and advisor to many undergraduates.  Despite her busy schedule she even managed to add teaching to her responsibilities and co-taught Commercial Vegetable Production.  She was a tireless fighter for New York vegetable growers, always looking for new tools to manage weeds.  Her research included all aspects of weed management, from traditional herbicides to cultural and chemical alternatives. She pioneered research in the weed suppressive ability of cover crops. A sabbatical leave to Sweden in 1991 introduced Robin to new and innovative European cultivation equipment that she brought back to New York.

Robin worried about people, whether it was poor farmers in southern Asia or hungry families in the Southern Tier.  She led the effort at Cornell to provide fresh vegetables from plots at the Homer C. Thompson research farm to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.  Robin realized that rather than fruit and vegetables being put in compost bins, they could wind up on dinner tables and feed hungry families.  Since 2004, Cornell has donated more than 1 million pounds of produce from the Thompson farm.

Robin was very involved in international agriculture and traveled throughout Central America and Asia.  After a visit to India, Robin pioneered the use of backpack sprayers for small growers.  She said “anyone who thinks farmers in India should control weeds without herbicides should spend an afternoon in a field there with a hoe”.  Her work in India changed lives and she was elected a Fellow of the Indian Weed Science Society for her contributions to Indian agriculture.

Please keep Robin’s family in your thoughts and prayers.

A memorial service for Robin will take place on Saturday, November 21 at 3 p.m. at the Wagner Funeral Home, 110 South Geneva Street, Ithaca.  Visiting hours will be held prior to the service beginning at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, Robin’s family suggests donations in her name to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

Robin Bellinder (right) with volunteers gleaning potatoes for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier at the Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in 2012.

Robin Bellinder (right) with volunteers gleaning potatoes for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier at the Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in 2012.



  1. Steve Fennimore says:

    I am very sorry to hear the news about Robin Bellinder. She made significant contributions towards weed management in specialty crops. My Deepest sympathy to her family, colleagues and friends.

    Steve Fennimore

  2. Nilda Roma-Burgos says:

    To Robin’s family and Robin’s friends and colleagues at IR-4:
    This news came like a blow to me. I had known Robin since I was a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, my former Professor, Dr. Ron Talbert had involved me in his IR-4 related research activities. Many in IR-4 have been like family to Robin and friends with her much longer than I have known her. I look up to her with great respect and admiration for her zeal to bring ‘tools’ to vegetable growers. Her work in India even extended to rice farmers and she championed rice projects there. Robin, and one of her Ph.D. students, even spent a brief time with us in Arkansas to observe rice production and learn about weedy rice there. It so happens that weedy rice is a rising concern in India. Robin was always promoting the sharing of information to expedite the generation of information that farmers can use. Her motivation was always finding means to help relieve hunger in various ways within her circle of influence. Thank you for sharing this tribute to Robin. We will miss her deeply.

  3. Would that there were others like her. Her work with the hungry is an example to students everywhere of what they are capable of if only they care enough.

    You are missed.

    IR-4 family, now one short of those that care and count.
    Southern Region

  4. Lynn Brandenberger says:

    Robin will be missed by so many. Her colleagues, students, all of her “Nozzle Head” friends and farmers around the globe. She was truly a caring, loving person who made a huge difference in so many peoples lives.

    For all the folks at Oklahoma State that called you friend.

    Lynn B

  5. I met Robin in my university (CCS HAU Hisar, India) when I returned from Scotland after my PhD in 1998 and since then we were in tough till August 2015. She will be remembered always for popularizing spray application methods for weed management in India through several of her training campaigns and for popularizing vegetable growing through interactive sessions with vegetable growers. She became a family friend and we always enjoyed her gracious presence. She was truly a ‘tireless fighter’ with weeds and will always be remembered not only in US, but India, Nepal, Afghanistan and many other countries where she made a mark. Praying the Almighty to rest her soul in peace in the heaven and provide courage to the bereaved family.

    Samunder Singh, India

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