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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:

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.

Survey details impact of 2016 drought on New York farming

Cornell Chronicle [2017-04-06]:

A survey of more than 200 New York farmers late last summer – during the worst drought in two generations – found that more than 70 percent of unirrigated, rain-fed field crops and pasture acreage had losses between 30 and 90 percent, according to a new report published by the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions.

For farmers all over the state, arid conditions were so pervasive that fruit and vegetable growers who had capacity to irrigate lacked water to keep up with the drought. Irrigated farms estimated crop losses of up to 35 percent, said Shannan Sweet, NatureNet postdoctoral science fellow with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and The Nature Conservancy.

“New York’s farmers have asked if they should expect more dry summers like the one we had in 2016. The answer is: We don’t know,” said Sweet, also a postdoctoral associate in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, working with David Wolfe, professor of horticulture. “Climate scientists forecast that the number of frost-free days will continue to increase and summers will be getting warmer, increasing water demand for crops.”

Read the whole article.

Responses to the survey question “What might you have done differently if you had known how dry this summer would be?”

Responses to the survey question “What might you have done differently if you had known how dry this summer would be?”

Read full report: Anatomy of a Rare Drought: Insights from New York Field Crop Farmers

Our Roots Grow Deep: Alumni in Extension

Lindsay Jordan was also a 2013 Dreer Award Winner  who traveled to New Zealand to explore cool-season viticulture practices.

Lindsay Jordan was also a 2013 Dreer Award Winner who traveled to New Zealand to explore cool-season viticulture practices.

This week, CALS News featured two alumni from the Graduate Field of Horticulture.

Liberty Hyde Bailey once described extension work as “a plain, earnest, and continuous effort to meet the needs of the people on their own farms.” Now as extension professionals, viticulture and enology graduates Lindsay Jordan, M.S. ’14, and Justin Scheiner, Ph.D. ’10, use their Cornell experience to apply Bailey’s goal to the grape and wine industry every day.

Jordan and Scheiner’s shared desire to make a tangible difference in the lives of growers belies the fact that they do their work nearly 2,000 miles apart. Both graduate students of the Vanden Heuvel group, Jordan worked on under-vine cover crops for weed management and their impact on grape production during her time at Cornell, and several years earlier, Scheiner examined the connection of methoxypyrazine levels and ‘bell pepper’ aromas to vineyard practices.

Their diverse backgrounds and research interests easily translated into working in extension. Jordan is currently based in California as the University of California Cooperative Extension Area Viticulture Advisor for three counties in the arid San Joaquin Valley, while Scheiner works as an assistant professor and viticulture specialist at Texas A&M University.

“My favorite part has been getting to know my local growers, and getting to participate in applied research that can directly impact growers,” said Jordan. “It’s pretty much the dream.”

Read the whole article.

Bauerle Lab’s Schieder awarded DAAD-RISE internship

From Taryn Bauerle, associate professor, Horticulture Section:

Plant Sciences major Tommi Schieder ’19 has been awarded a DAAD-RISE internship and is one of only five students chosen from more than 1,700 to receive additional funding from the German Center for Research and Innovation Foundation.

This summer, Tommi will be traveling to the Technical University of Munich to research tree hydraulic redistribution, the passive movement of water that helps trees survive drought stress, a growing concern due to climate change.

Bauerle (right) orients Schieder to some of the equipment she’ll be using to collect data while on her internship in Germany.

Bauerle (right) orients Schieder to some of the equipment she’ll be using to collect data while on her internship in Germany.

Researchers Look for Genetic Clues to Help Grapes Survive Cold

CALS News [2017-03-29]

Al Kovaleski, a doctoral student in the field of horticulture, visits the Anthony Road Winery in Penn Yan, New York. Photo by Chris Kitchen / University Photography

Al Kovaleski, a doctoral student in the field of horticulture, visits the Anthony Road Winery in Penn Yan, New York. (Photo:  Chris Kitchen /University Photography)

Months before northern vineyards burst into their lush summer peak, the delicate grape buds holding the nascent fruit in its tiny core must first withstand the freezing onslaught of winter.

Understanding how grape buds respond to subzero temperatures is of paramount concern to vineyard managers in New York and other northerly grape-producing states. Some of the more popular varieties used in the wine and juice industries can survive temperatures far below the freezing point of water. By a process known as supercooling, cellular mechanisms within the bud maintain water in liquid state down to around minus 4 to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the species. Beyond a certain low-temperature threshold, ice forms inside the cells, cellular functions cease and the bud dies.

Horticulturists have long relied on traditional methods to study freezing in plants. Now a researcher in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is using powerful technologies on campus to explore in new ways the cellular mechanics that allow grape buds to survive brutal cold. The research has implications for vineyard economics, especially as climate change opens more northerly land for cultivation and current growing regions experience more extreme weather.

Al Kovaleski, a doctoral student in the field of horticulture, is using the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) to create 3-D images of grape buds. The images produced at CHESS are providing a unique perspective as Kovaleski unravels the genetic underpinnings of supercooling in grape buds.

Read the whole article.


This article originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.

Signs of spring: Hortus Forum at KPL

Members of Hortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club, visited Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses Wednesday, where Bill Miller explained the work of the Flower Bulb Research Program.

HoFo at KPL

Vanden Heuvel recognized for grape, wine research

Vanden Heuvel

Vanden Heuvel

Cornell Chronicle [2017-03-14]

In recognition of her major contributions to the state’s wine and grape industries, Justine Vanden Heuvel has earned this year’s research award from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation (NYWGF).

The foundation recognized Vanden Heuvel, associate professor of enology and viticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for her research optimizing flavors and aromas in wine grapes, and for improving the environmental and economic sustainability of wine grape production in cool climates. She received the award March 1 at the annual NYWGF unity banquet, part of the three-day B.E.V. New York organized by Cornell and held near Rochester. …

Research by Vanden Heuvel has provided guidance for vineyard management decisions to improve economic outcomes and reduce environmental impacts. A series of papers published during the summer demonstrated that planting cover crops beneath vines reduces nutrient and agrochemical leaching from vineyards while reducing production costs.

In addition to research and outreach work, Vanden Heuvel teaches undergraduate courses on the science of viticulture and enology, as well as a course on wine culture.

“New York has earned its reputation as one of the world’s premier grape and wine producers, but that success can only be sustained through a continued commitment to research,” said Vanden Heuvel. “Growers face uncertainty as climate shifts, and rely on robust research programs to guide sustainable innovation. I am proud that my research helps growers prosper and maintains New York’s reputation as a grape and wine powerhouse.”

Read the whole article.

The Secret to a Really Crisp Apple

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

Why are some apples mealy while others are crisp?

Cornell apple breeder Susan Brown answers that question in this New York Times science Q&A.

The differences are partly genetic, she explains. Some varieties can be stored longer before they get mushy.

But proper storage at home will help you keep your apples crisp. “If consumers store fruits at room temperature, rather than in the refrigerator, they will soften and get mealy sooner,” she says.

Read the whole article.

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