Archive for the “Grad program” Category

Miles with Aloidendron dichotoma

Miles with Aloidendron dichotoma

From Dreer Award recipient Miles Schwartz-Sax (MPS ’14) who is studying Plant Conservation in South Africa:

Hope you are doing well and that the semester has started off smoothly. So far South Africa has been an exciting experience. I have had adventures botanizing in the mountains, high deserts, ocean sides, natural areas and already visited a handful of private and public gardens. At Stellenbosch Botanical Garden, I have been busy helping mainly in the curatorial aspects of the garden, so plant identification, labeling, propagation, database management and development and so on.The state of urban horticulture is almost non existent in South Africa, so it has been very interesting to see the creative approaches people are implementing. The city of Stellenbosch is known for its extensive oak plantings throughout the city that go back to the city’s development. The city is currently undertaking a Million Tree campaign and I have been able to sit in on a few of these events to get a sense of how they are planning to go about the project.

Mostly the soils are sandy in this area, so some street tree plantings can obviously deal with the high bulk density. But it would seem they would benefit from the development or implementation of skeletal structural or Amsterdam structural soils.  Martin Smit the curator here is trying to get me in contact with a few municipal folks to see if we can’t set up a seminar or talk to some key folks on soil quality, street tree planting, site prep. We will see how this develops. Things have there own way of working  down here compared to fully developed nations.

As a means of reporting on my activities over here I have developed a blog that you can follow: Dreer South Africa. Hopefully this will work as my way of keeping folks updated on my activities.

All my best and hope you are enjoy the start of fall colors and the bounty of the apple harvest.

See the application and instructions for the 2015 Dreer Award cycle. Deadline is March 2, 2015 .

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Lindsay Jordan

2013 Dreer Award Winner Lindsay Jordan explored cool-season viticulture in New Zealand

From Nina Bassuk:

The Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science offers a wonderful opportunity once a year, the Frederick Dreer Award, that allows one or more students to spend 4 months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture.

See the application and instructions that spells out the procedure for applying. Basically it is quite simple. Submit a written proposal to the Dreer Committee by the deadline (March 2, 2015 in this cycle), which is followed by an informal interview, generally in a week or two. The faculty receives the recommendation of the Dreer Committee and votes on the nominee.

The only obligation of the Dreer award winner is to write to the Dreer Committee monthly while overseas, and upon return to the United States, give a presentation about their time abroad to students and faculty.

Please look into this opportunity seriously. It can be taken as a summer and a semester’s leave or a year’s leave of absence during school or upon graduation. If you would like to talk over a potential idea for the Dreer with a member of the Committee (and we encourage you to do so), please contact Nina Bassuk (Horticulture) Josh Cerra (Landscape Architecture) or Marvin Pritts. (Horticulture).

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Kao-Kniffin in Landscape and IrrigationVia Michelle Sutton (MS Horticullture ’00), Editor, Taking Root, the blog of the New York State Urban Forestry Council:

Jenny Kao-Kniffin’s lab is featured in the September 2014 issue of the trade journal Landscape and Irrigation. (See page 22.)
In the article, Kao-Kniffin offers advice for how grounds people can manage turf in light of New York’s 2010 Child Safe Playing Fields Law, which restricts the use of conventional pesticides on K-12 school grounds, playing fields and daycare centers.

“Some contractors go overboard with adding fertilizers. This can result in extensive phosophorus application, whereas nitrogen should really be the focus when it comes to turf density in most sites,” she says.

The article also details research by horticulture PhD candidate Grant Thompson, who is comparing polycultures of turfgrass species with monocultures. “In the polycultures, we found some moderate increases in biomass and some moderate retention of nitrogen,” he says. He also found more diverse bacterial and fungal communities in the root zones of the polycultures.

On a related note, research at the Horticulture Section’s Urban Horticulture Institute was recently featured on the Taking Root blog, which has replaced the New York State Urban Forestry Council’s print newsletter.

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SoHo members Jeremie Blum and Annika Kreye, PhD candidates in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, load the apple machine in its new location in the entrance to Mann Library.

SoHo members Jeremie Blum and Annika Kreye, PhD candidates in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, load the apple machine in its new location in the entrance to Mann Library.

The apple machine is back for the season, but has a new home: Just inside the entrance to Mann Library.

Members of the Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SoHo) hope that the new high-traffic location will boost sales. SoHo members pick the apples at Cornell Orchards as well as manage the machine.

SoHo uses proceeds from sales to fund guest speakers, purchase academic supplies, and support education and outreach programs and other SoHo activities.

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Group shot at August 2014 Horticulture Graduate Field Review

Faculty, graduate students and others in the Graduate Field of Horticulture gathered August 22 in Jordan Hall at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station for the biannual Graduate Field Review.

In the morning, new graduate students introduced themselves, and a dozen continuing graduate students gave presentations and answered question on their research progress.

During the afternoon faculty meeting, graduate students toured research plots at the Experiment Station:

Horticulture graduate students learn about high tunnel cherry research.

Horticulture graduate students learn about high tunnel cherry research.

Eric Fabio, PhD candidate in Larry Smart's lab, explains his willow biofuel research.

Eric Fabio, PhD candidate in Larry Smart’s lab, explains his willow biofuel research.

Ali Bennett, MS candidate in Phillip Griffiths' lab, braves the rain to explain her work on breeding cabbage and other crops for anthocyanins for natural food pigments.

Ali Bennett, MS candidate in Phillip Griffiths’ lab, braves the rain to explain her work on using anthocyanins from cabbage and other crops for natural food pigments.


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David Harris, Chrystal Stewart and Fred Gouker

David Harris, Chrystal Stewart and Fred Gouker

Some recent awards and recognitions:

Crystal Stewart, Cornell Cooperative Extension Regional Agriculture Specialist with the Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program, was awarded an Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) held in Mobile, Alabama on July 22. The Achievement Award is presented to those agricultural agents that have been working in their field for less than 10 years but in that short time have made significant contributions to their profession.

Fred Gouker, PhD candidate in the Graduate Field of Plant Breeding and Genetics and member of Larry Smart’s lab was a co-winner of the Best Student Poster at the International Poplar and Willow Symposium VI July 21-23 in Vancouver, BC for his paper entitled Analysis of phenotypic and genetic diversity of a Salix purpurea association mapping population.

David Harris, a rising senior majoring in Plant Science with a minor in East Asian Studies received the Long Island Flower Growers Association (LIFGA) Scholarship. Harris’s career goal is to work for an international company that plans on expanding production or sales into Asia.

Update [2014-08-02] from Marvin Pritts: At the American Society for Horticultural Science meetings in Orlando this week, Terence Robinson received the Outstanding Extension Educator Award and Bill Miller delivered the B.Y. Morrison lecture. Also, Mary Meyer, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota (M.S. Cornell, 73), delivered the presidential address.

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From Thomas Björkman:

On May 30, faculty, staff and students gathered at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva for the annual awards celebration:

Meredith Persico and Alan Lakso

Meredith Persico (left) is a junior Viticulture major at Cornell who will be doing a viticulture research project at the Station this summer thanks to a Shaulis scholarship. This scholarship was established in memory of Geneva viticulture professor renowned for developing the principles and practices of vine balance. Professor Alan Lakso introduced her on his last official day of work after more than 40 years on the faculty.







Benjamin Gutierrez

Ben Gutierrez (right) was awarded the Perrine scholarship to support his graduate studies. Ben in a PhD student with Susan Brown and Ganyuan Zhong, studying the genetics of antioxidants in apples. The Perrine Endowment was created to support students’ research in pomology.









Bill Srmack

Bill Srmack was recognized for 40 years of service at the Station. He has been with the clonal repository since just before it was officially founded! He now is responsible for maintaining the thousands of accessions in the orchard of the national germplasm collection. Here he receives congratulations from PGRU Research Leader Ganyuan Zhong and curator Thomas Chao.

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franny-with-diplomaWhether you were there or you missed out, you’ll want to check out Carol Grove‘s album from the Plant Science Breakfast and Degree Ceremony.

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Paya with art installation

Paya with Tower Rd. art installation

A Graduate Field of Horticulture PhD candidate has created a work of art along Tower Road to celebrate commencement and say thank you to the friends, family and fellow students who helped him through his time at Cornell.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” says Alex Paya, who titled his work “Let the Bridges We Burn Light Our Way.”

After more than four months of planning and securing permissions, Paya and fellow horticulture grad student Miles Schwartz-Sax spent 12 hours Saturday stretching the yellow, orange and red banners from branches in the oak trees to the ground adjacent to Minns Garden and Plant Science Building.

Paya says he was inspired in part by the feeling he gets walking through underground tunnels at airports. “I love corridors – the way they lead you on – and I love trees,” says Paya, whose dissertation explores the belowground interactions of tree roots from different species. “So my intent was to create a space to lead people forward only in a more natural setting.

“I tried to create something novel, interesting and festive – with the fall colors contrasting with the background of spring,” he adds.

The installation is ephemeral. Paya plans to remove the banners in early June.

Paya would also like to thank fellow students in the Graduate Field of Horticulture Juana Munra Ucis, Marie Zwetsloot, Adam Karl, and Sonam Sherpa for their contributions to the project.

Paya with Tower Rd. art installation


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If you missed two recent Department of Horticulture seminars by PhD candidates in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, they are available online:

Gonzalo Villarino: High throughput RNA sequencing elucidates novel responses of Petunia hybrida to salt stress


Alex Paya: Does neighbor identity affect the belowground growth and physiology of trees?


The Department of Horticulture seminar series is on hiatus until fall. But you can view previous seminars on the Cornell Horticulture YouTube channel’s Seminar playlist.

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