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Thompson awarded the Sellew Family Fellowship

Grant Thompson and Mark Sellew

Grant Thompson and Mark Sellew

Reposted from Discovery that Connects (SIPS blog):

The School of Integrative Plant Science is pleased to announce that Grant Thompson, PhD student in the Field of Horticulture, has been awarded the inaugural Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship.  Thompson works in the program of Jenny Kao-Kniffin, investigating how land use legacy impacts soil microbial community structure and function as it relates to soil organic matter dynamics in turfgrass systems.  Greater understanding of these processes will lead to more sustainable management of urban landscapes.

The Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship is supported by a current use fund of $50,000 from Mark ‘78 and Lisa ‘79 Sellew and was created to highlight the valuable role that graduate students play in contributing to the educational experience of Cornell undergraduates.

During his time in the Kao-Kniffin lab, Thompson has mentored several undergraduates including Princess Swan (BS Plant Sciences, ’15), Laura Kaminsky (BS Plant Sciences, ’17), and Michelle Chen. Kao-Kniffin wrote in Thompson’s application, “Grant worked with three different students on field and lab methodological measurements, training each student very carefully with rather complex techniques.” She added, “Grant is a very professional and mature graduate student that thinks deeply about mentoring and the impact it has on the effective training of a new generation of scientists.”

Mentee Laura Kaminsky commented, “Grant has taught me that science is truly a collaborative action. He invested himself into many facets of my project and growth as an undergraduate researcher. My research flourished as a result of his expertise and support, and I likely wouldn’t have half my data (nor the ability to interpret it) without him.” Kaminsky attributes her passion for research to her experience in the Kao-Kniffin lab.  Following graduation she will be moving to Penn State University to begin work on a PhD in Environmental Microbiology.

The Sellew Family Excellence-in-Mentoring Fellowship will be awarded to a student in a different SIPS graduate field for each of five years. In subsequent years, the awardee will be selected (in order) from the Fields of Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology, Plant Biology, Soil and Crop Sciences, and Plant Breeding and Genetics.

Mattson, Whitlow, Bassuk lauded for urban horticulture efforts in PeriodiCALS

Mattson (top) and Whitlow

Horticulture Section faculty Neil Mattson and Tom Whitlow  are among the CALS faculty focusing their efforts on urban agriculture and other innovations that will reap benefits for city dwellers. With varied areas of focus, from climate change to food and social injustice to human health, they and other CALS faculty agree that challenges related to these issues can be traced to the severe lack of space in increasingly population-dense cities. Read more in Sky’s the Limit in the latest issue of PeriodiCALS, the College’s news magazine.

Other horticultural coverage in PeriodiCALS includes:

Seminar video: ‘Seed to Supper’ program: Reaching underserved audiences through garden education

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar ‘Seed to Supper’ program: Reaching underserved audiences through garden education  with Christine Hadekel,  Oregon Food Bank, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

A host of horticulture events April 24-28

Kick off the week with Christine Hadekel’s return to the Horticulture Section to talk about the ‘Seed to Supper’ program: Reaching underserved audiences through garden education at Monday’s seminar. Then flesh out your calendar with a host of other events of horticulture interest:

The Curious Mister Catesby: A “Truly Ingenious” Naturalist Explores New Worlds – April 26

Leslie Overstreet, curator of Natural-History Rare Books at the Smithsonian Libraries, will talk about the historical and scientific significance of plant explorer and artist Mark Catesby (1683–1749), and his monumental book, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands. April 26, 2017 at 4:00p.m., Mann Library, Stern Seminar Room 160.

Community Gardens Seminar – April 26

Learn about the importance of community gardening, its impact and how you can get involved on campus and at home. Hosted by Hortus Forum and featuring Fiona Doherty (Cornell Garden-Based Learning), Steve Reiners (Horticulture Section) and Chris Smart (SIPS director).

Speaker: Melissa Madden, Finger Lakes Cider House/Good Life Farm – April 26

Part of the Ithaca Food Entrepreneurship Speaker Series. April 26, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., 102 Mann Library. Presented by Dilmun Hill Student Farm. Funded by Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station. Refreshments provided.

Iscol Lecture: Michael Pollan ‘Out of the Garden’ – April 27

The Atkinson Center’s Jill and Ken Iscol Distinguished Environmental Lecture this year features author Michael Pollan, April 27, 5:00 p.m. David L. Call Auditorium, Kennedy Hall.: “When Michael Pollan faced his suburban lawn in the 1980s, he looked past the Bermuda grass and saw acreage ripe for invention and discovery. ‘The garden suggests there might be a place,’ he concluded, ‘where we can meet nature halfway.’ His books look at nature close to home: the garden, the farm, the table. Today Pollan tells the story of the path his writing has taken since he planted his first vegetable garden. Beginning with that horticultural adventure, his work has evolved into an exploration of human engagement with the natural world. What’s at stake when we garden, cook, and eat is not only our health, Pollan argues, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth.”

michael pollan

Horticulture Outreach Day – April 28

Hands on activities to learn about the diverse field of horticulture: Chia pet sculpture, printing from plants, mushroom inoculation. April 28, 1 to 4 p.m. Purple Greenhouses, Plant Sciences Building. (Go to the basement floor and look for the signs.) Sponsored by Society of Horticulture Graduate Students (SoHo).

Bauerle Lab inspires young scientists at ‘Expanding Your Horizons’

EYH participants assemble water columns .

EYH participants assemble water columns .

As part Cornell’s Expanding Your Horizons program April 15, Horticulture graduate students in the Bauerle Lab — Annika Huber, Juana Muñoz Ucros, and Marie Zwetsloot — led workshop sessions on “Engineers of Nature: How do plants drink?”

The three developed activities directly related to their research on woody plant root physiology and helping plants cope with water stress. Their middle school workshop participants assembled water columns simulating the hydraulic systems plants use to transport water from roots to leaves, graphed their observations of how different sized tubes performed, used water to transport dyes into sunflower plants, and skeletonized leaves to observe the microscopic structure of their veins.

“It’s the third year Annika, Juana and Marie have pitched in to lead workshops for this event,” says Taryn Bauerle, associate professor in the Horticulture Section. “It’s great to see them as role models for the next generation of scientists.”

Annika Huber had middle school participants use water to transport dyes into sunflower leaf veins so they can observe their microscopic structure.

Annika Huber had middle school participants use water to transport dyes into sunflower leaf veins so they can observe their microscopic structure.

EYH student graphs water column experiment data.

Juana Muñoz Ucros helps EYH student graph water column experiment data.

Marie Zwetsloot assists student with microscopic observation of leaf structure.

Marie Zwetsloot assists student with microscopic observation of leaf structure.

Seminar video: Finding Anna: The archival treasure hunt into the life of Anna Botsford Comstock

If you missed Monday’s Horticulture Section seminar Finding Anna: The archival treasure hunt into the life of Anna Botsford Comstock  with Karen Penders St. Clair, Graduate Field of Horticulture, it is available online.


More seminar videos: Horticulture | School of Integrative Plant Science

Online botanical illustration courses start June 5

botanical illustrationLearn botanical illustration online.  Three courses taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly start June 5, 2017:

The course webpages have links to websites where previous students have posted their works online.





In the news

Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel receives NYFVI grant [CALS News 2017-04-13] – Wine grape growers in the Finger Lakes region will be getting a high-tech view of both their vineyards and bottom lines thanks to work from Justine Vanden Heuvel. A project from the associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science will help select growers use drone technology to collect remote sensing measurements known as normalized difference vegetation index, or NDVI images. Her research is one of 11 projects led by Cornell scientists who received a total of more than $1.1 million from the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) in their latest round of funding, announced April 12.



Bosco awarded Engaged Cornell grant [CALS News 2017-04-12] – Graduate Field of Horticulture Ph.D. student Sam Bosco is one of 16 students to receive an Engaged Graduate Student Grant. The grants provide opportunities for Ph.D. students and their thesis advisors to conduct research or scholarship that is community engaged or to develop strategies for incorporating community engagement into existing thesis work. Bosco is working with Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse, aka Iroquois) communities to further remember and restore their traditional foodways — much of which was lost during colonization — of integrating nut trees into a sustainable food system. Bosco’s work includes facilitating nut tree cultivation, and co-developing culturally-specific curricula, resources, and activities to expand interest and consumption of nuts. His advisor is Jane Mt. Pleasant, School of Integrative Plant Science – Horticulture, and American Indian and Indigenous Studies Program.



Spanish cider from American soil [Draft Magazine 2017-04-11] – “With the huge growth in the cider industry over the last five years, I think there are many commercial cider makers looking at how to make a product that’s quite different from what’s out there,”  Greg Peck, tells Draft Magazine. Peck, assistant professor in the Horticulture Section, is working with the USDA to test and release the new Spanish apple varieties.

Glynos receives ‘Young Botanist’ award


Originally posted in Discovery that Connects (SIPS blog) [2017-04-14]

Plant Sciences major Nicolas Glynos ’17 has received a Young Botanist Award by the Botanical Society of America. The award recognizes outstanding graduating seniors in the plant sciences nationwide.

“It’s a very prestigious honor,” says Karl Niklas, Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor in the Plant Biology Section who nominated Glynos. “This year, only 13 students met all of the award’s criteria.”

Glynos transferred to Cornell in spring semester 2016, after earning and Associate of Science degree at Flathead Valley Community College in Montana. In addition to his stellar performance in the classroom, Glynos distinguished himself at Cornell through his many other plant science activities.

Last summer, he earned a coveted spot on a Smithsonian Research Experience for Undergraduates in Panama, where he studied how heavy-metal toxicity affects rain forest tree growth and reproduction.

Back on campus in fall, Glynos worked part time at the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium, measuring, imaging and data-basing plant specimens and geo-referencing them on digital maps. And he worked on his senior thesis with Kevin Nixon, Professor in the Plant Biology Section and the Hortorium’s curator, studying the varied morphology of oaks to better understand how they adapt to climate change from an evolutionary perspective.

And when a Titan arum – the species that produces the largest inflorescence in the plant world – flowered in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory for the first time, Glynos volunteered for hours to help explain the fascinating pollination strategy of this plant to the hundreds of visitors who lined up to see it firsthand.

This summer, with help from a grant from the Fredric N. Gabler ’93 Memorial Research Endowment, Glynos will pack up the car for a trip across the western United States to collect and photograph oaks to provide additional data for his senior thesis.

Glynos is on track to complete his B.S. requirements this fall. After that, he plans to study systematics, evolution, and diversity of tropical plants at the graduate level.

Research support specialist Ed Cobb (left) and Professor Karl Niklas present Glynos with his Young Botanist award in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.

Research support specialist Ed Cobb (left) and Professor Karl Niklas present Glynos with his Young Botanist award in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.

New book traces environmental history of local old growth forest

smith woods coverAuthors of this new book include Horticulture Section professor Marvin Pritts. Join Pritts and the other authors for a book launch at the Ulysses Philomathic Library in Trumansburg, N.Y., April 26 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Book ordering information.

Smith Woods: The Environmental History of an Old Growth Forest Remnant in Central New York State
Warren D. Allmon, Marvin P. Pritts, Peter L. Marks, Blake P. Epstein, David A. Bullis, and Kurt A. Jordan

Reviewed by Prof. Donald A. Rakow

Driving west along New York State Route 96, it would be easy to miss the old growth forest fragment known as Smith Woods just before entering the Village of Trumansburg.  That would be understandable since the woods holds neither the majesty of the great California redwood forests nor the extent of national parks like Yosemite.

It is, in fact, the rather diminutive nature of Smith Woods that has allowed the authors of this manual to offer a thoroughgoing treatment of the site’s geological history, forest development, early indigenous settlement, and recent ecological transition.  The result is a text that is as readable as it is enlightening.

Eschewing both a purely scientific and a simple layman’s approach, the authors use both text and extensive illustrations to delineate how physical, biological and anthropomorphic forces have shaped this site and made it into the habitat it is today.  The reader is left with a much clearer understanding of how such processes take place, along with a great appreciation for this very special place.

The authors represent a wide range of disciplines: lead author Warren Allmon is the director of the Paleontological Research Institute and professor in the Cornell Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Marvin Pritts is a professor of horticulture in the Cornell School of Integrative Plant Science; Peter Marks is an emeritus professor in the Cornell Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; and Kurt Johnson is a professor in the Cornell Department of Anthropology.  Blake Epstein is a student at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, NJ and David Bullis is a graduate student at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.


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