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Dosmann to receive Fairchild Medal

Michael Dosmann (Photo: Tony Aiello)

Michael Dosmann on collecting trip to China. (Photo: Tony Aiello ’85)

Dosmann in the field.

Dosmann in the field.

Michael Dosmann (PhD Horticulture ’07) has been named the 2019 recipient of the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration from the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG).

“This is a very prestigious recognition,” says Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University. “Plant exploration is even more important today as explorers like Michael travel the planet to find rare plants, conserve genetic resources and preserve biodiversity.”

Since earning his doctorate from Cornell in 2007, Dosmann has led and participated in multiple botanical expeditions to China and Japan, as well as in the Eastern U.S. and the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. These expeditions to acquire wild-collected seed have contributed significantly to the expansion of living collections, including those at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University where Dosmann is Keeper of the Living Collections. His collecting has focused on maples (Acer) hickories (Carya), hydrangeas, viburnums and other species of conservation concern.

NTBG President Chipper Wichman says Dosmann exemplifies the spirit of David Fairchild, an early “Indiana Jones” type plant explorer who led expeditions in Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

At the 147-year-old Arnold Arboretum – the oldest in North America – Dosmann curates and manages a global collection of temperate woody trees, shrubs, and vines comprising some 15,000 accessions. The Arboretum is an essential component of Boston’s park system, as well as an important education, research, and conservation facility.

In addition to being an explorer, Dosmann is also an enthusiastic advocate of having all people explore the plants in their own surroundings and worries people aren’t noticing the green around them. One of his professional goals is to bring the excitement of plant exploration to the public and inspire them to explore their own surroundings.

Wichmann also praised Dosmann’s very successful work popularizing plants through teaching and public education programs. “It’s researchers like Michael Dosmann who will engage the hearts and minds of the next generation of botanists,” he says.

“I think plant explorers have a moral obligation to bring back not just the plants, but also share the inspiration with others,” adds Dosmann, who will receive the medal February 1 at a black-tie dinner at The Kampong, NTBG’s historical garden and the former residence David Fairchild in Coconut Grove, Florida.

Based in part on National Tropical Botanical Garden news release.

Dosmann scans the canopy while collecting seed of Koelreuteria paniculata in South Korea in 2004.

Dosmann scans the canopy while collecting seed of golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) in South Korea in 2004.


Zachary Stansell: paving the way for a New York broccoli industry

Photo credit: Justin James Muir

By Erin Flynn, CALS News [2019-01-24]:

Zachary Stansell, a fourth-year doctoral student in the field of horticulture, is studying under the guidance of Thomas Bjorkman, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

We spoke to Stansell about his research and what he sees for the future of the broccoli industry.

The Eastern Broccoli Project is working to establish the scientific basis for a local, reliable source of broccoli production on the east coast. What are some of the hurdles and the opportunities to making this a reality?

Currently, reliable broccoli production on the east coast is constrained by a number of biological hurdles. For example, temperature sensitivity related damage often occurs. Modern broccoli types have also undergone a genetic bottleneck.

I believe that my work with this delicious super food—and, dare I say, favorite food—will enhance production and access to affordable, high-quality, locally produced broccoli. My work is addressing broccoli production issues by disentangling the genetic networks that regulate its adaptation to heat stress. I’m also taking a census of the current state of modern broccoli compared to large pools of genetic diversities contained in older “heirloom” types. This work will help us develop optimal broccoli types for New York state, while preserving the crucial genetic diversity needed to adapt to challenges such as climate change.

What is your most memorable student experience?

The relationships and community I’ve experienced at Cornell and Cornell AgriTech have been my meaningful life experiences.

Professor Björkman has been a consistent mentor, supporting and challenging me to create strong, inference-based research. I’m consistently impressed by the openness, inclusiveness and willingness of the Cornell AgriTech community to help graduate students.

What inspires you as a student at Cornell AgriTech?

As corny as it may sound, opportunities to give back inspire me. I feel immensely grateful to the people who have invested time, care, curiosity and resources into my development. I’m beginning to have an ability to give that back. For example, I am planning a demonstration garden to help Master Gardeners train community gardeners across New York state. I’m also collaborating with undergrad summer scholars to collect field data, write the code to analyze it, and make actual discoveries. Developing tools and methods to help quantify horticultural quality in other crops is also a passion of mine.

How do you think graduate student research benefits New York state agriculture?

My own experience here has allowed me to listen to and learn from nearly every stakeholder group in the New York state agricultural community. I’ve learned to communicate with people working on topics ranging from heat-stress mechanisms in model organisms, to farm workers transplanting cabbage, to venture capital funded agriculture entrepreneurs. I believe that sort of informational cross-linking created by graduate students serves to strengthen and integrate the network that Cornell AgriTech provides to New York state agriculture.

Seminar video: South African Viticulture – Past, Present & Future

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar, South African Viticulture – Past, Present & Future with Erna Blancquaert, Stellenbosch University, it is available online.

More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

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