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Bridgen receives innovative teaching award

Mark Bridgen

Mark Bridgen, horticulture professor and director, Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, and Farmingdale State College Assistant Professor Nick Menchyk were named winners of an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) 2018 Innovative Teaching Award. The awards program encourages new faculty to expand their scholarship of teaching and learning by creating projects with more senior faculty from other institutions.

Bridgen and Menchyk will use the $5,000 award to produce short, educational videos about techniques in plant propagation, and to post them on-line for their students to use.  In recent years, it has been recognized that students are more likely to watch on-line videos as a learning tool rather than read books and articles.  By developing short, educational videos that focus on the procedures and techniques of plant propagation, students will have the opportunity to watch the protocols before attempting the exercises during the laboratory.  The videos will also stimulate more interest in the various plant propagation topics.

Those topics will include bud grafting (both T-buds and chip buds), wedge grafting, cactus top grafting, tomato and cucumber seedling grafts, mist system construction, seed sowing, seed stratification, seed scarification, micropropagation, leaf cuttings, stem cuttings, root cuttings, influence of leaves on rooting, rooting media evaluation on propagation, controlling potato morphogenesis in vitro, and air layering.

Congratulations Class of 2018!

Standing: Steve Reiners (Horticulture Section Chair), Marvin Pritts (Director of Undergraduate Studies for Plant Sciences), Sarah Hetrick '18, Leah Cook (Plant Sciences Major Coordinator), Hauk Boyes '18, and Matthew Siemon '18. Sitting: Sitting: Patricia Chan '18, Benjamin Sword '18, and Cairo Archer '18
Standing: Steve Reiners (Horticulture Section Chair), Marvin Pritts (Director of Undergraduate Studies for Plant Sciences), Sarah Hetrick ’18, Leah Cook (Plant Sciences Major Coordinator), Hauk Boyes ’18, and Matthew Siemon ’18. Sitting: Sitting: Patricia Chan ’18, Benjamin Sword ’18, and Cairo Archer ’18.

Class of ’18 Plants Sciences Majors gathered May 18 for the annual senior luncheon, where they provided feedback on ways to make the program even better.

Horticulture Section Chair Steve Reiners used the occasion to announce this year’s awards and recognitions:

  • Ring Memorial Award: Zeran Lin
  • Ring Memorial Award: Matthew Siemon
  • Melvin B. and Helen K. Hoffman Scholarship: Claire Morrow
  • McNair Scholar: Patrick O’Briant
  • Merrill President Scholar’s Award: Nick Glynos
  • Kenneth Post Award: Benjamin Sword and Myles Collinson
  • American Society for Horticultural Science Student of the Year, Cornell: Hauk Boyes (Agricultural Science major, Horticulture minor)

Congratulations Class of ’18!

Celebration of student botanical art

Samples of the students' work.

Samples of the students’ work, above.

Students in Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Intensive Study in Botanical Illustration course (PLHRT 3250) displayed their works for the semester at a lunchtime  ‘gallery walk’ in Plant Science Building May 8. Featured artists included Rosemary Glos:

Rosemary Glos

Bailee Hopkins-Hensley:

Myles Collinson:

Aliza Doyle:

Later in the day, there was an opening in B30 Mann Library celebrating the works Viola Yu completed as her capstone project for her Minor in Horticulture with a Focus in the Botanical Arts, including an extensive mural in a nearby corridor. “The goal is to show how beautiful underground and underwater can be, and then to show the diversity of the world and why we should save it,” said the natural resources major. The inspiring artwork celebrates the connections between soil, oceans and the health of the planet.

Viola Yu with her paintings in Mann Library.
Viola Yu with her paintings in Mann Library.

Plant Sciences Undergraduate Symposium May 11

flyer click for pdf

  • May 11, 2018 – 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.
  • 233 Plant Science Building
  • Sponsored by the School of Integrative Plant Science.
  • All are welcome. Light refreshments will be served.


1:00 to 2:30 p.m. – Student presenters:

  • Grant Thompson (PhD candidate)
  • Zeran Lin
  • James Winans
  • Cairo M. Archer
  • Samantha Hackett
  • Allison Coomber
  • William Dahl
  • Jeffrey Yen

2:30 to 3:00 p.m.  – Student poster session:

  • Braulio Castillo
  • Yuqi Chen
  • Felix Fernandez-Penny
  • Annika Gomez
  • Harris Liou
  • Jonathan Price
  • Alan Zhong

3:00 to 4:30 p.m. – Student presenters:

  • Ben Sword
  • Kellie Damann
  • Patrick O’Briant
  • Kady Maser
  • Natalie Roche
  • Patricia Chan
  • Megan Dodge
  • Matthew A. Siemon

Questions? Contact Leah Cynara Cook

Hortus Forum Spring Bedding Plant Sale May 11-12

Friday, May 11 – 1 to 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 12 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Livestock Pavilion, 48 Judd Falls Road, Ithaca, N.Y.

View variety list.

Join Hortus Forum for garden and greenhouse tour this weekend

From Mark Bridgen, Professor and Director, Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center:

You are invited to spend this Saturday and Sunday with the Hortus Forum (Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club) and Pi Alpha Xi (the honor society for plant science) on a weekend bus trip to Long Island and New York City to tour gardens and greenhouse.

All students and staff in CALS, and their friends and family, are invited to participate.

The itinerary includes:

The cost to students for this trip is only $53 per person ($23 of this cost is for an admission ticket to the NYBG). The cost for staff members and non-students is $75.  The registration fee includes 1 night of cabin accommodations, luxury bus transportation, admission to the NYBG, and dinner on Saturday night.

I hope to see you there.

More information:

Horticulture honor society inducts 28 new members

pax key

Phi Alpha Xi key

From Mark Bridgen, Professor and Pi Alpha Xi advisor:

Pi Alpha Xi (PAX), the national honor society for horticulture, inducted  a near-record 28 new members at a March 23, 2018 ceremony held in the H. H. Whetzel Room in the Plant Science Building on the Cornell University campus. Only the best students in the plant sciences are invited to join this national honor society.

Pi Alpha Xi was founded in 1923 at Cornell University and Cornell is the Alpha Chapter. Originally, it was the national honor society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture. In recent years it has changed and now honors excellence in all aspects of horticulture.

Since its founding, PAX has grown to 36 chapters at baccalaureate-granting institutions. Its mission is to promote scholarship, fellowship, professional leadership, and the enrichment of human life through plants. PAX was very active at Cornell University for many years, peaking in the 1970s. But the chapter went dormant for several years until its revival in 2013.

PAX inductees and officers with advisors Mark Bridgen (seated left) and Neil Mattson (seated right).

PAX inductees and officers with advisors Mark Bridgen (seated left) and Neil Mattson (seated right).

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

Also inducted into PAX: Karl NIklas, professor, Plant Biology Section (left) and Ed Cobb, research support specialist in the Plant Biology Section. Also pictured: Bridgen, Horticulture Section chair Steve Reiners, and Mattson.


Sweep of Light: Scanner Photography and the Art of Horticulture at Mann Library Gallery

cyclamenA collaboration between the Horticulture Section of CALS’ School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) and Mann Library, A Sweep of Light celebrates the intricate beauty of botanicals through the medium of scanner photography. Scanners can be used to produce distinctive, high-resolution images rich in both color and texture. A Sweep of Light features stunning, often large-scale works by photographer Ellen Hoverkamp, SIPS communications specialist Craig Cramer, students from Marcia Eames-Sheavly‘s course The Art of Horticulture, and Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club.

The exhibit runs through the end of March, is available for viewing during normal library hours and is free and open to the public. A special reception will be held on Wednesday, February 21st at 4 p.m. where guests will be able to view contributing artist Craig Cramer demonstrate his technique of botanical scanner photography.

Mann Gallery

Restoration ecology class surveys Lake Treman

Students Stevanica Augustine, left, and Jonas Soe examine invertebrates along the streams that feed into Lake Trema

Students Stevanica Augustine, left, and Jonas Soe examine invertebrates along the streams that feed into Lake Trema

Cornell Chronicle/CALS News [2018-02-06]

Far above Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca sits a reservoir dam impounding Lake Treman. Hiking trails wend through the area, which for eight decades has slowly accumulated enough sediment to turn the lake into plodding marsh. Sometime in the next 30 years, it will completely fill and become a riparian marsh.

Cornell students in Tom Whitlow’s Restoration Ecology class spent the fall semester examining Lake Treman’s many components, and they worked with the New York State Department of Parks and Recreation to develop a plan for managing it.

The students presented their research to state parks officials in December. (View presentation video.) Generally, the class found no compelling reason to remove the dam, in spite of the increasing sediment, said Audrey Stanton ’19, a teaching assistant for the course.

Read the whole article.

‘Three Sisters in Soil’ wins global soil painting competition

Three Sisters in Soil

Soil, it turns out, can be a work of art — and a team of Cornell artists and scientists proved just that. A painting they created with soil captured first prize in the university division of the global soil painting competition sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Kirsten Kurtz, manager of the Cornell Soil Health Lab and a graduate student in the field of natural resources, organized the public event Dec. 5, 2017 in the lobby of Mann Library as part of World Soil Day. There, supporting artists and members of the Cornell community created two large canvases from more than 50 paints formulated from soils from around the world.

“It’s amazing the range of colors you can get from soil,” says Kurtz, who started using the technique four years ago. “Of course you have the usual browns and tans, some tinged with yellow and red. But some yield pigments from jet black to light gray and even green.” In addition, soil particles in the paint from gritty sands to fine clays give the works a unique texture not possible with other media.

Supporting artists Patty Chan (Plant Sciences major) Fatma Rekik (Soil and Crop Sciences graduate student), Emily Detrick (Cornell Botanic Gardens) and Shujie Li (Scanlon Lab technician) work on Three Sisters with Kurtz (right).

Her recipe includes pulverizing dried soil and mixing it with water and a gesso binder. Kurtz also led a similar event in 2015 that inspired FAO to take the idea worldwide.

On the main canvas, Kurtz and supporting artists affiliated with the School of Integrative Plant Science used soil paints to honor the Three Sisters of agriculture — corn, beans and squash — used by Native American communities. The scene they painted was based on Ringelreihen, a 1910 work by the German artist Franz von Stuck, which shows three women spinning arm-in-arm.

“We added three baskets filled with corn, beans and squash,” says Kurtz. “These are the crops used in the traditional ‘Three Sisters’ polyculture used by the Haudenosaunee here in the Finger Lakes for centuries, a technique that is a model of sustainable farming.”

The community canvas

Other members of the Cornell community tried their hand at soil painting on the second canvas, completing a mosaic-like design. Plans are to hang the works in the entrance of Bradfield Hall.

“My main goal for these events is to inspire people to think about soil,” says Kurtz. “It is as an essential natural resource – as important as clean water and air. We depend on healthy soil to provide us with food and fiber, and we can use soil to help fight climate change.

“We’ve got lots of great reasons to celebrate soil,” she adds.

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