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Wolfe advises House sub-committee on climate stress and mitigation strategies

David Wolfe testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research

David Wolfe testifying to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research

Reposted from the SIPS blog, Discovery that Connects [2019-06-14]. See also Cornell Chronicle article.

SIPS faculty member David Wolfetestified Wednesday to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research in a public hearing entitled, “Increasing Resiliency, Mitigating Risk: Examining the Research and Extension Needs of Producers”. Wolfe led the expert testimony by outlining challenges presented by recent extreme weather events and ways in which farmers are responding. He went on to list areas of need such as improved regional climate data, digital agriculture infrastructure, and greater access to capital.

The entire witness panel strongly emphasized the importance of public sector research to develop regionally adapted cultivars and address pest and pathogen challenges exacerbated by climate variability. Cooperative extension and collaborative research with USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) were also hailed. Followup questions from representatives covered topics as diverse as the benefits of gene editing, efficacy of cover crops to mitigate both flooding and drought, international competition in the realm of biotechnology, to concerns about the proposed move of USDA headquarters.

Other experts testifying at the hearing included Robert W. Godfrey, Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at University of the Virgin Islands, Brise Tencer, Executive Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, CA, Sam Godwin of Godwin Family Orchard in Tonasket, WA, and Fred Gmitter of the Citrus Research and Education Center at the University of Florida.

Wolfe’s program in the SIPS Horticulture Section focuses on the accounting and management of carbon, nitrogen, and greenhouse gases in agroecosystems. He is also a project coordinator of the recently released New York Soil Health Roadmap.

Empire apple breeder Roger Way dies at 100

Cornell ChronicleCALS News [2019-06-12]:

Roger Way

Roger Way

Roger Way, Ph.D. ’53, professor emeritus of pomology and world-renowned apple breeder, died June 2 in State College, Pennsylvania. He was 100 years old.

Way gained worldwide recognition for apple varieties he developed. His apple-related fame landed him on a “Jeopardy!” question, under the category “By the Way,” which read: “Roger Way tasted 200 of these a day, helping him develop the Empire and Jonagold types.”

“Dr. Roger Way contributed to the New York apple industry, but also nationally and internationally,” said apple breeder Susan Brown, the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Science at Cornell AgriTech. “His Jonagold apple, named in 1968, is seventh in European apple production by variety and Empire is ninth in U.S. production.”

Read the whole article.

Towering ‘Double Allium’ sculpture installed at Cornell Botanic Gardens

Cornell Chronicle, CALS News [2019-06-12]:

double allium ribbon cutting

Anne Simon Moffat ’69, right, and husband Keith Moffat, center, along with Christopher Dunn, executive director of Cornell Botanic Gardens, cut the ribbon on Double Allium, a steel-and-glass sculpture by blacksmith-artist Jenny Pickford, June 8 during Reunion 2019. Photo by Sonja Skelly.

 

A towering new sculpture welcomes visitors to the Cornell Botanic Gardens: “Double Allium,” crafted of metal and glass, stands 12 feet tall and sits along the walkway to the Nevin Welcome Center.

The work features graceful leaves crafted of metal and closed blooms in purple glass.

Jenny Pickford, a contemporary artist blacksmith based in the United Kingdom, created the sculpture to illustrate the co-existence and co-dependence of strength and fragility in the natural world. Its whimsical qualities are inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” and aim to invoke childlike awe and wonder toward nature.

Anne Simon Moffat ’69 and husband Keith Moffat, a professor at the University of Chicago, commissioned the sculpture, which was dedicated June 8 during Reunion weekend. Anne Moffat was celebrating her 50th reunion.

The Moffats are experienced glass collectors and share a love of gardening.

“Keith and I wanted to combine our passion for glass, horticulture and Cornell University by bringing an iconic sculpture to Cornell Botanic Gardens,” said Anne Moffat, a certified master gardener. “We hope that it will give visitors joy and deepen their understanding of our relationship with the natural world.”

Pickford designs her sculptures for outdoor installation, where they draw attention to the natural beauty around them. Cornell Botanic Gardens’ sculpture is her first permanent installation in the U.S. and her first sculpture in the double allium form.

“Art highlights what is there and makes people notice its presence,” Pickford said, noting the glass features of her works “allow natural sunlight to pour into the glass.”

To create these structures, Pickford uses blacksmithing skills in her forge to transform industrial steel into a malleable form, bringing the piece to life. She uses special tools she has made herself, along with a fly press and 1930s-era power hammer. She obtains the glass pieces through partnerships with distinguished glass blowers.

Pickford’s sculptures are featured all over the world, including in China, Australia and across the United Kingdom. One her most notable works is the “Bluebell” sculpture at the Royal Derby Hospital in Derby, England, where it is in place to connect cancer patients with the hope and beauty of nature.

“Double Allium” is installed on the lawn near the Bioswale Garden at Cornell Botanic Gardens and along the walkway to the Nevin Welcome Center. The gardens are free of charge and open dawn to dusk daily.

By Alice Soewito, marketing and communications intern at Cornell Botanic Gardens.

Hort alums named to GPN ‘Forty Under 40’

Cheni Filios

Cheni Filios

Two alumni from the Graduate Field of Horticulture were named to Greenhouse Produce New’s 2019 Forty under 40.

Cheni Filios (M.S. ’14) is now Global Product Manager for Vegetables at PanAmerican Seed Co.  Since joining the team there, she has helped to double the company’s product portfolio and sales.  While at Cornell, she also received the Frederick Dreer Award, which she used to study post-havest horticulture in New Zealand and Europe.

Ockert Greyvenstein

Ockert Greyvenstein

Ockert Greyvenstein (M.S. ’09) is now a plant breeder, also at PanAmerican Seed Co.  There, he’s helped get the male-sterile patent approved for the company’s vinca breeding program and has been instrumental in the program’s trialing, evaluation, test production and ultimate product selection. He has also been active mentoring college interns in the company’s breeding program to create an exciting, meaningful and educational experiences.

Both were advised by Bill Miller, director of Cornell’s Flower Bulb Research Program.

Commencement videos

If you missed the festivities this weekend — or want to relive them — you can view videos of the Class of 2019 Undergraduate Recognition Ceremony (recognizing students receiving degrees in Agricultural Sciences and Plant Sciences May 26) and the 2019 Graduate Degree Ceremony (recognizing students receiving MPS, MS and PhD students from each of the five graduate fields within SIPS).

New book a how-to for bringing stressed students to nature

Nature Rx coverCALS News, Cornell Chronicle [2019-05-22]:

Nearly two in three U.S. college students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year, according to a 2018 report from the American College Health Association.

While there’s no simple solution, copious scientific evidence backs up the notion that even short, semi-regular exposure to parks, gardens and other natural spaces can help with stress and depression.

A new book co-written by Don Rakow, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, explores ways schools can use those spaces to address the problem.

Rakow has teamed up with co-author Greg Eells, formerly the director of the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services, to write “Nature Rx: Improving College-Student Mental Health,” which came out May 15.

“It’s basically a how-to manual for college administrators, faculty and staff,” said Rakow, one of the forces behind the NatureRx@Cornell program. “The goal is to get a group of people at a school to come together to support a time-in-nature program for students.”

With its gorges, Botanic Garden and other natural areas, Cornell is well-known as one of the nation’s most beautiful campuses. But it’s far from unique in terms of natural beauty. “Every school,” Rakow said, “even urban campuses, has access to green spaces.”

Cornell serves as a case study in the book, along with three other schools. But Rakow said there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. “Each campus has to develop the sort of nature Rx program that best fits their school,” he said.

See also What the Woods Do for Stressed Students, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 21, 2019.

 

Toxicology expert Donald Lisk dies at 88

 

Lisk

Lisk

By Krishna Ramanujan. Cornell Chronicle | CALS news [2019-05-09]:

Donald J. Lisk, M.S. ’54, Ph.D. ’56, professor emeritus of soil chemistry and toxicology and a champion of graduate education, died April 27. He was 88.

A former director of Cornell’s Toxic Chemicals Laboratory, Lisk was known for his work analyzing pesticides – including DDT – in soils, plants and animals; the toxic effects of chemicals on occupationally exposed populations; and the effects of diet on inhibiting cancer.

“Although Don was primarily a researcher, he was committed to graduate students and, upon his retirement, left a substantial amount of unrestricted funds to the Department of Horticulture to support graduate education,” said Marvin Pritts, professor of horticulture. “Don was always willing to take time to learn about what others were doing and share exciting findings from his own work.”

Read the whole article.

Online organic gardening course starts June 1

Registration is now open for Organic Gardening one of the online courses offered by the Horticulture Section in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.

Raised bed vegetable gardenOrganic Gardening is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

Starting with a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, the course then explores tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. Most students spend about 5 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

View more information and full course syllabus for Organic Gardening.

Questions about either course? View FAQ or contact, Fiona Doherty: fcd9@cornell.edu.

Horticulture honor society inducts 27 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 27 new members at an April 30, 2019 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 39 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  Neil Mattson (back left) and Mark Bridgen (right).

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

 

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

Graduating PAX seniors received their honor cords.

 

Attendees at the PAX ceremony.

Attendees at the PAX ceremony.

 

 

 

Cornell researchers win major awards from cider industry

Greg Peck working at Cornell Orchards. Peck, assistant professor in the horitculture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science,  and Chris Gerling, extension associate in the food science department, both recently received major awards from the cider industry. Photo by Sasha Israel

Greg Peck working at Cornell Orchards. Peck, assistant professor in the horitculture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science,  and Chris Gerling, extension associate in the food science department, both recently received major awards from the cider industry. Photo by Sasha Israel

Erin Flynn, CALS News [2019-04-19]

Hard cider is a fast-growing segment in the U.S. fermented beverage industry, and New York’s position as a leader in craft beverage production and expertise is paving the way for cider producers to succeed.

“The burgeoning craft beverage industry in New York state has helped create a lot of applicable resources and expertise for cider makers,” said Ian Merwin, M.S. ’88, Ph.D. ’90, owner of Black Diamond Cider and Cornell professor emeritus of plant science. “We can get bottles and equipment from well-established companies in the area. We have the legislative support we need and Cornell experts like Chris Gerling and Greg Peck to help us every step of the way.”

Merwin notes that the benefit of cider makers working with both Gerling, extension associate in the Department of Food Science, and Peck, assistant professor in the horticulture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, is that they can gain expertise on both ends of the spectrum—when growing the cider apples and when making the cider itself.

Recently Gerling and Peck received major awards from the cider industry. Gerling was given the Apple of Appreciation award from the New York Cider Association (NYCA), and Peck was chosen as the Grower Advocate of the Year by the U.S. Association of Cider Makers (USACM).

Chris Gerling, who began his career offering extension expertise in the field of enology, found a natural transition into hard cider extension work. Wine and cider have many similarities, including the types of yeast used and the effect of climate, soils and terrain on the overall flavor profile.

“Chris has distinguished himself as being fully invested in improving the quality and profitability of cider made in New York and beyond,” said Jenn Smith, NYCA executive director. “He is as curious as he is knowledgeable, and in particular has been central in NYCA’s work to tackle the challenges of measuring and communicating the tricky concept of dryness to drinkers. We are grateful and lucky to have him as a partner in our work of developing a sustainable, excellent cider industry in our region.”

Greg Peck’s research explores ways to increase the quantity and quality of New York–grown cider apples, including best practices for fertilizer, crop load and harvest management. Peck also helps cider makers select varieties that will work best for high-quality and flavorful cider.

Michelle McGrath, executive director of the USACM, said the organization’s members overwhelmingly voted for Peck to receive the Grower Advocate of the Year award.

“His advocacy for cider at Cornell and his research collaborations with the industry are important for expanding our knowledge of growing cider apples. We know so little about propagating cider-specific varieties in the U.S., and Greg is such a valuable resource for cider makers looking to use specific apple varieties.”

While hard cider makers have many valuable resources in New York, the recent awards for Gerling and Peck underscore the fact that producers value experts who can help them piece together the many components that equate to a high-quality end product.

To learn more about Cornell’s hard cider research and outreach efforts, visit: https://hardcider.cals.cornell.edu

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