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PhD candidate seminar videos

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.

Vegetable varieties worth growing

eggplantFrom Lori Brewer. Reposted from Cornell Garden-Based Learning blog.

May is an optimistic month for New York State vegetable gardeners. We might be fortunate enough to be harvesting some cool season crops while we hope the last frost has come so we might sneak a few more growing days for our warm-season crops.

Moreover, there are nurseries and local plant sales overflowing with inspiring possibilities for vegetable plantings. Here are a few resources to help you navigate possibilities:

CALS students aim to stem plastic tides

Reposted from CALS Notes.
Celine and Christian

Guest Post from Christian Shaw ’14 and Céline Jennison ‘14

“Having both grown up enjoying water sports, we feel a responsibility to work towards protecting our playground for generations to come. Along with a group of three other friends who are athletes and devoted conservationists like us, we will travel to Bermuda for a ten-day, muscle-powered, stand-up paddle expedition to be launched on June 8, World Oceans Day. This expedition – named Plastic Tides – is dedicated to raising awareness about coastal plastic pollution. As part of our mission, we will collect scientific data for the marine microplastics project sponsored by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. We also ultimately hope to inspire other passionate watermen and women to get out there and stand up for the environment!

Plastic Tides was conceived in the fall of 2012 at a National Geographic Young Explorers workshop at Cornell University. The workshop really opened our eyes to what was possible, and that afternoon the ideas began to flow. Bermuda’s location in the Sargasso Sea and North Atlantic Trash Gyre makes it the perfect place for documenting breathtaking natural beauty alongside the ever-growing presence of coastal plastic pollution.

The expedition will include seaweed documentation in collaboration with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science (BIOS), as well as local school visits.” Plastitides graphic

Check out the Plastic Tides website, or follow the effort on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to learn more and find out how you can become involved in saving our precious coastal waters from pollution.

Celine and Christian

And as part of their fundraising campaign for camera equipment and backcountry living gear for the expedition, Christian and Céline have organized a friendly stand-up paddle race and BBQ on Cayuga Lake on May 18th that is open to all. Ithacans and Cornellians are invited to join the fun! You can register here.  

Christian Shaw ‘14 is a CALS Interdisciplinary Studies graduate. He’s also a professional kiteboarder and avid waterman from Ithaca, NY. He recently graduated from Cornell where he studied sustainability and business. While at Cornell, he pursued his passion for watersports and founded the SUP, Surf, and Kiteboarding clubs on campus. His lifelong goal is to combine watersports with environmental education and awareness in pursuit of a sustainable future. Christian is the team leader of the Plastic Tides project. 

Céline Jennison ’14 is a Plant Science major whose passion for plants is truly engrained within her. At the age of ten she developed an immune deficiency and an herbalist restored her balance within a year, opening her eyes to the power of plants. As a windsurfer and Sorbonne University intern, her passion for terrestrial flora now encompasses marine flora, namely seaweed. Celine has been actively engaged on campus. She founded the undergraduate windsurfing club, is president of the Cornell Permaculture Club (creating the Trillium permaculture garden), and serves as student director of the CALS Alumni Association.

PAX, HoFo rejuvenate foyer planters

Matthew and Maddy with rejuvenated planter in Plant Science foyer.

Matthew and Maddy with rejuvenated planter in Plant Science foyer.

Members of the horticulture honor society Pi Alpha Xi and Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club, have teamed up to rejuvenate the long-neglected planters in the foyer of Plant Science Building.

Matthew Bond ’14 and Maddy Olberg ’14 took time out from studying for finals Tuesday to pull out the dusty old plants and replace them new Spathiphyllum (Peace Lilies), Peperomia, and creeping Ficus — chosen because they can weather the low-light and otherwise unfriendly conditions in the foyer.

Other society and club members will help maintain the planters.

Online botanical illustration courses start June 2

Hellebore watercolor by Marcia Eames-Sheavly

Learn botanical illustration online.  Three courses taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly start June 2, 2014:

You can view works by students in previous classes on display in the cases in the west wing of the first floor of Plant Science Building. The course webpages also have links to previous students who have posted their works online.

Turf technician helps laud Law School Dean

When planning a gathering to celebrate the 10-year tenure of retiring Cornell University Law School Dean Stewart Schwab, Sheila Grant found herself in a quandary.

The new academic wing at the Law School – one of Schwab’s most significant accomplishments as dean – includes an adjacent lawn named for him and his wife, Norma, thanks to the generosity of gifts from the Law School’s Advisory Council and others. How do you recognize the official naming of the Schwab Lawn when the celebration will be held at The Metropolitan Club in New York City?

Grant, who works in Alumni Affairs and Development at the Law School, turned to Cornell Turf Program technician Jeff Barlow for help.

“She supplied the display box and I supplied the sod to represent the Schwab Lawn,” say Barlow.

The only problem was, with spring coming late this year, the Kentucky bluegrass sod Barlow dug was still brown. “I lined the box, filled it with soil, fit the sod in it and put it in the greenhouse. It only took it a week or so to green up,” he notes.

With daily watering, the sod grew so fast that Barlow had to give the sod a “mowing” with a pair of scissors. “I wanted to make sure it had that fresh, manicured look for the ceremony.”

“Jeff’s efforts were instrumental in making this come to fruition,” says Grant.

And the fate of the sod after the ceremony? Schwab plans to use it to repair a dead patch of lawn where the plastic base of a basketball hoop killed the grass.

“I sent him directions to make sure the sod would survive and fill in the spot,” says Barlow.

Stewart and Norma Schwab

Stewart and Norma Schwab

Last day of classes

As the semester winds down, many HORT classes have been engaged in special activities, including …

Urban Eden students at 'Rice Bowl' site

Students from Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920)  pose after winding up planting and mulching water retention swales east of Rice Hall. Dubbed the “Rice Bowls,” the structures are designed to reduce runoff and increase infiltration of water from adjacent parking lots. Students selected species that can tolerate periodic flooding, such as Shining Sumac, Bayberry, Blackhaw, Spirea, Sea Buckthorn and Willow. Cornell has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation every year since 2009. Requirements for recognition include effectively managing campus trees in coordination with the surrounding community, engaging students in service-learning forestry projects, and providing outreach on the value of trees and urban forests through programs such as Arbor Day celebrations.


Students in the new course, Intensive Study in Botanical Illustration (HORT 3250) — taught via 3 robust auto-tutorial online courses developed by Marcia Eames-Sheavly showed their works at a May 6 reception. This course is only available for students enrolled in the Minor in Horticulture with a Focus in the Botanical Arts.

HORT 2150 poster session

Students in the new course, Coffee, Cloves and Chocolate: Plant Explorers and Thieves (HORT 2150) present posters on the history and biology of important culinary, medicinal, industrial, and ornamental crops.

David Wolfe on National Climate Assessment

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

From Climate Change Is Already Here, Says Massive Government Report, Huff Post Politics, May 6, 2014

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat, but a real and present danger in the United States, according to a government report issued Tuesday.

“The report is the latest update from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and details ways that climate change — caused predominantly by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases — is already being felt across the country.

“‘Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,’ the report says in its introduction. …

“The report notes that American society and its infrastructure were built for the past climate — not the future. It highlights examples of the kinds of changes that state and local governments can make to become more resilient. One of the main takeaways, said David Wolfe, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Cornell University and a coauthor of the chapter on the Northeast, is that ‘you don’t want to look at the weather records of yesteryear to determine how to set up your infrastructure.’

“This report, said Wolfe, signals that the country is ‘beginning to move beyond the debate about whether climate change is real or not, and really getting down to rolling up our sleeves’ and addressing it.”

Read the whole article.

See also: Cornell Media Relations Office tip sheet.

Hort hikers

From Marvin Pritts, Department of Horticulture chair:

On Sunday May 4, a group of 16 intrepid horticulture hikers and friends headed off to explore Lick Brook, south of Ithaca. The hiking was excellent, the waterfalls were flowing, and the wildflowers were out in abundance.

Seen along the hike were early saxifrage, black cohosh, solomon’s seal, trout lily, bloodroot, hepatica, colt’s foot, red and white trillium, violet, and anemone.

Future hikes will likely be scheduled to other scenic, off-the-beaten-path locations around Ithaca.

Department of Horticulture hikers and friends exploring Lick Brook.

Department of Horticulture hikers and friends exploring Lick Brook.


Hort in Spring 2014 periodiCALS

Spring 2014 periodiCALSThe Spring 2014 issue of periodiCALS features several articles of horticultural interest. Among them:

  • Page 4: Watkins Takes Helm of CCE and Plantations Says Aloha to New Director Dunn.
  • Page 7: Michael Mazourek’s ‘Silver Slicer’ cucumber named one of the top new edible plants of 2014 by Better Homes and Gardens and breeders may soon be able to predict the  acid-producing potential of apple trees without waiting for fruit, thanks to research by Kenong Xu.
  • Page 22: Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize course is featured in “Innovative Instruction In Any Study.” Bryan Duff’s What is School For? course is profiled in a sidebar.
  • Page 28: Nick Biebel’s ’14 squash breeding work with Michael Mazourek is featured in  “CALS Students Make Their Mark.”
  • Marvin Pritts and Steve Reiners are among the beloved faculty featured in this web exclusive.

Download the .pdf or view the digital edition.

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