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Vanden Heuvel in the NY Times

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Justine Vanden Heuvel

In Do Children in France Have a Healthier Relationship With Alcohol?Justine Vanden Heuvel and psychology professor Katherine Kinzler explore how the informal education about alcohol children receive influences later drinking habits.

“Though some studies have suggested that offering children small tastes of alcohol is associated with problem drinking, countries where drinking wine at meals is standard, including Italy, France and Spain, rank among the least risky in a World Health Organization report on alcohol. Can cultural attitudes toward wine affect our propensity for problem drinking?.”

Read the whole article.


Elizabeth Bihn named Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell

Betsy Bihn

Betsy Bihn

CALS Notes [2016-03-15]:

Elizabeth “Betsy” Bihn, PhD, has been appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University. Established in December 2015 with a $2 million state grant, the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University is a center unique in its comprehensive approach connecting training and applied research to support the implementation of practices that reduce foodborne illness. The institute will harness Cornell’s existing strengths across food production systems in fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods to help growers and processors meet food safety challenges such as complying with new demands in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

“The Institute for Food Safety is a great opportunity to build on already established programs at Cornell in order to meet new challenges that face farmers, small processors, and the whole food industry,” said Bihn. “These challenges include requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act, buyer demand for food safety practices, consumer demand for local foods grown in sustainable ways, and many other evolving needs that are developing daily.”

Bihn and the Institute are based at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., and she is a minor faculty member of the Graduate Field of Horticulture

Read the whole article.

Xu receives Presidential Early Career Award

Kenong Xu

Kenong Xu

President Obama Thursday named 105 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Kenong Xu, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, was one of only three agricultural researchers honored.

Based at the New York Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., Xu’s current research focuses on identifying the apple genes and gene networks that control characteristics such as tree form, resistance to stress and fruit color, acidity and shelf life.

This allows apple breeders to save time and money when they develop new varieties, because they don’t have to wait for apple seedlings to fruit to identify which of the progeny carry the traits they’re looking for. And they can discard undesirable seedlings at a very young stage, greatly reducing costs.

“Xu is demonstrating how we can apply new insights into how plants work to make them more adaptable to a changing world and evolving consumer needs,” says Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

“These early-career scientists are leading the way in our efforts to confront and understand challenges from climate change to our health and wellness,” President Obama said. “We congratulate these accomplished individuals and encourage them to continue to serve as an example of the incredible promise and ingenuity of the American people.”

The winners will receive their awards at a Washington, DC ceremony this spring.

See also:

The Eastern Broccoli Project Moves Forward

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Growing Produce [2016-02-07]

With the drought casting uncertainty on the production of broccoli in the West, growers in the East have seized the opportunity to increase their production of the crop while learning to adapt to the demands of the burgeoning marketplace.

Established in 2010, Cornell University’s Eastern Broccoli Project has been leading the expansion of broccoli production in the East. Created as a long-term program, for the last five years, the project has been funded by a $3.2 million grant from USDA and an additional $1.7 million from various commercial partners, with a recent proposal submitted to secure funds for the coming five years.

American Vegetable Grower® connected with Thomas Björkman, the project’s director, to get an update on project’s status and details on the challenges of Eastern broccoli production.

Read the whole article.

Cornell will invest in greenhouse agriculture [2016-02-03]:

New York already ranks second in greenhouse vegetable production, according to 2012 numbers from the United States Department of Agriculture. In that year, the state had 435 operations with 114 covered acres, with wholesale value on those vegetables of $27 million.

 “I am particularly excited about the fact that three contiguous regions won the [Upstate Revitalization Initiative (URI) funding] competition and that all three regions prioritized agriculture,” said Prof. Kathryn Boor, dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). “A focus on agriculture makes so much sense for central New York. We have land, water, educated and progressive producers, research and development centers at Cornell in Ithaca and at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, and a large, sophisticated consuming public all along our east coast. This public is increasingly interested in purchasing tasty, local food.”

The Finger Lakes region, including Rochester, and central New York, including Syracuse, were the other winners in the $1.5 billion giveaway of funds liberated by New York State from the big banks in a $6 billion-plus settlement making amends for the 2008 recession.

Read the whole article.

CALS research key to New York farming growth

Professor Thomas Bjorkman explains findings from the Eastern Broccoli Project, a research effort he is leading to establish a broccoli industry in the eastern United States, to horticulture graduate students Hannah Swegarden and Juana Muñoz Ucros. (Photo: Matt Hayes)

Professor Thomas Bjorkman explains findings from the Eastern Broccoli Project, a research effort he is leading to establish a broccoli industry in the eastern United States, to horticulture graduate students Hannah Swegarden and Juana Muñoz Ucros. (Photo: Matt Hayes)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-01-21]:

The ground may be covered in snow, but New York farmers already have their minds on growth.

Agricultural producers from across the state are meeting in Syracuse Jan. 19-21 as part of the 2016 Empire State Producers Expo. The three-day showcase brings together Cornell scientists and Cornell Cooperative Extension specialists to share the latest in research and technical advances, from crop management and food safety compliance to the best practices to aid the industry’s newest farmers to those working the land for generations.

New York agriculture is at a point of ascendency, said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). She said the potential growth for farmers and producers of all sizes is aided by research conducted on the Cornell campuses in Ithaca and Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

“This is an opportune moment for local agribusiness. We are on the cusp of a new era with potential for sustained agricultural growth in New York,” she said during her keynote speech Jan. 19. “We have the land, water, specialty and dairy agriculture, educated producers, and research and development support in Geneva and in Ithaca to grow specialty food production and processing here in our state.”

Read the whole article.

Internship application deadlines coming up fast

summer-scholarsLooking for a summer internship? Application deadlines are coming up fast.

Here are some especially attractive Cornell internship opportunities you should check out:

  • Summer Research Scholars Program – Based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Undergrads participate in exciting lab- or field-based research projects in Entomology, horticulture, plant pathology/plant-microbe biology or food science.
  • Summer internship, Cornell Small Farms Program – Assist with communications activities including Small Farms Update, Small Farms Quarterly, social media, website as well as hands-on field work at MacDaniels Nut Grove agroforestry demonstration site
  • Cornell Plantations internships – Interns become a member of the Plantations’ professional team and work with staff in natural areas, wildflower garden, botanical garden, youth education programs or marketing and communications.
  • Cornell Orchards Internships – Get hands-on research (field and lab) and field experience with a variety of fruit crops (grapes, apples, peaches, berries). Opportunities to interact closely with faculty and local vineyards and orchards
  • Campus landscape internships – Work with Nina Bassuk and the staff of the Urban Horticulture Institute to plant and tend Minns Garden and other campus landscapes and assist in research at Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility.
  • Organic Vegetable Farming Research Assistant – Get applied research experience on campus and at the Thompson Research Farm in Freeville.  Help manage vegetable crops from planting to harvest, learn plant and soil sampling methods, organize data, and summarize results.
  • Plant Genome Research internships – An incredible opportunity to work side-by-side with experts at the Boyce Thompson Institute in the fields of biology/biochemistry, biotechnology, genetics and development, plant sciences, genomics, and bioinformatics.
  • Annual flower trials/greenhouse technician – Work outside early June to mid-August. Contact for details.
  • Agriculture and Food Science Internship Hebei Province, China – Conduct field trials and sensory evaluations for fast-growing organic food business in China.

Visit the Plant Science Internships blog to view more opportunities.

In the news

susan-brown-applesRecent articles of horticultural interest:

A Harvest, Sweet and Plentiful [ feature] – Susan Brown, Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Goichman Family Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, helps create fruits and vegetables that benefit consumers and the state’s agricultural economy.

The Outsize Importance of the Tiny Organic Seed [Modern Farmer 2015-12-15] – As agriculture has become more and more industrialized, flavor and genetic diversity have been sacrificed in favor of efficiency and yield. The result, says Cornell plant breeder Michael Mazourek, is the bland, “one-size-fits-most crops” that dominate today’s culinary landscape.

Vegetables Under Glass: Greenhouses Could Bring Us Better Winter Produce [NPR 2015-12-09] – Even though growing vegetables in greenhouses is usually a bit more expensive than open-air production, Neil Mattson says that indoor farming’s key advantage — the freshness of its produce — may outweigh cost for many consumers.

New York wine varietal debuts [Good Fruit Grower 2015-12-17] – Goose Watch Winery became the first in the nation to offer the new wine varietal Aromella, and it did so just a year after Cornell initially released the grape in 2013.

Uma Bioseed wins $500,000 in Buffalo competition


Uma Bioseed founders Abhijeet Bais, MBA '15, Margo Wu, MBA '15,  and Brennan Whitaker Duty, MBA '15,  won $500,000 in the 43North incubator competition in Buffalo, New York, Oct. 29.

Uma Bioseed founders Abhijeet Bais, MBA ’15, Margo Wu, MBA ’15, and Brennan Whitaker Duty, MBA ’15, won $500,000 in the 43North incubator competition in Buffalo, New York, Oct. 29.

Via Cornell Chronicle [2015-10-30]

Uma Bioseed – a Cornell student business startup formed in partnership with another Cornell startup’s technology – won $500,000 in the 43Northincubator competition in Buffalo, New York, Oct. 29.

Eleven company finalists – whittled down from 11,000 registrants in 117 countries – met in a pitch competition to serve up why their business deserved the $1 million grand prize. The winner was ACV Auctions of Buffalo, which received the grand prize and one year of space at the 43North incubator on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

43North is part of the Buffalo Billion initiative, in which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has committed $1 billion to Buffalo to spur new investment and economic activity. …

Uma Bioseed will produce a cost-effective seed coating with stabilized organic enzymes to battle fungal and bacterial seed-borne pathogens. The solution can disinfect seeds as they germinate so that more crops thrive from sown seeds, increasing yield and farm income.

Seed technology expert Alan Taylor, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Intergrative Plant Science, mentored the Uma Bioseed team.

Read the whole article.

Martinson receives Extension and Outreach award

Senior Extension Associate Tim Martinson received the CALS award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension and Outreach at the CALS Research, Extension and Staff Awards ceremony November 3.  The award “recognizes individuals who have demonstrated leadership in developing a highly innovative and responsive extension/outreach program that addresses stakeholder needs.

The Awards Committee cited Tim’s leadership in developing and promoting sustainable viticulture practices, which has been recognized throughout New York and has served as the foundation for extension programs in other states as well.  They also noted the significant economic and environmental benefits that have accrued to New York’s grape industry as a result of his educational efforts.

Those efforts include Appellation Cornell and Veraison to Harvest newsletters and the Northern Grapes Project.

Martinson talks with growers at field day.

Martinson talks with growers at field day.

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