JAMES LASSOIE Awarded IP-CALS Innovative Teaching Grant

James LassoieJim Lassoie is the recipient of the Innovative Teaching in International Agriculture and Rural Development Grant by International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  This $3000 award will be used to fund the logistical and curriculum development of a three week service trip to Ecuador.  This trip is offered as a part of IARD/LATA 4011/6011 “Experience Latin America – Ecuador Edition I/II”, a two-course sequence, fall and spring semesters, 3 credits each.  For more details concerning this award and “Experience Latin America – Ecuador Edition I/II”, see http://blogs.cornell.edu/ipcals/2014/08/05/james-lassoie-is-awarded-ip-cals-innovative-teaching-grant/

Congratulations, Jim!

Project in China Helps to Restore Arid Soils

In Ningxia, China, the average annual rainfall in only about 6 inches. Associate professor Rebecca Schneider, along with professor James Lassoie, senior research associates Stephen Morreale and Ruth Sherman, and Crop and Soil Science professor Harold van Es, have made several trips to Ningxia in the past two years to help improve the dry, sandy soils in China. They have developed a method to sequester water and add components into the upper soil layer to maximize the use of limited rainfall to contribute to soil fertility and carbon sequestration.

A research plot in China

Last August, the researchers prepared a test field using compost materials from the white poplar tree (Populous alba). They will now look at alternative soil types to improve plant growth. In addition to the research effort, the project has been expanded into an extension site for policymakers and the public. Eventually, it will be brought into a Chinese “harmonious village,” where residents relocated from rural areas can learn how to apply the soil enhancement technique in their own gardens.

This project is located at the Ningxia Forestry Institute’s State Key Laboratory of Seedling Bioengineering, working with Li Changxiao, a professor at the Southwest University in Chongqing, China, and a former Humphrey fellow at Cornell, in a three-year collaborative project between the Chinese government and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rebecca Schneider

As part of a two-year INTEL science internship program, Steven Kalayam worked with Schneider to develop his own small-scale project testing the efficiency of organic matter amendments in reducing water run-off. Kalayam used a native species of aspen similar to the poplar grown in Ningxia so his results are relevant to the evidence Schneider is collecting to present to the local people.

Check out these articles to read more about the project:




Former Forestry Professor Bob Morrow Passes Away

Former DNR Forestry Professor Bob Morrow passed away on February 4, 2013. Morrow was the extension forester preceding Jim Lassoie, where he helped develop the rural maple syrup industry at the Arnot Forest. The Arnot Sugar House was named in his honor when he retired in 1983 after teaching forestry practices to more than 1,000 students. Morrow was inducted into the American Maple Museum Hall of Fame for his contributions to the maple syrup production industry.

Click here to read his full obituary.

Conservation Bridge Website

Natural Resources Professor Jim Lassoie and Ph.D. student Jamie Herring have created a website that connects current, real problems between students and conservationists around the globe. The website uses short videos created by Herring that allows the students to work directly with scientists who are trying to fix these problems. The relatively new model has already been acknowledged by education experts and funders. Students in areas from Ithaca to China are gaining a valuable education and experience with conservationists as well conservationists receiving research conducted by the students. The Conservation Bridge Website accomplishes the ultimate goal of allowing teachers to motivate students to understand the concrete significance of what  they are learning in the classroom.

Eventually, Lassoie sees Conservation Bridge as self-sustaining with contributors from around the world. Its innovation and practicality has already earned three competitive grants and a large interest in using Conservation Bridge from U.S. environmental science faculty members.


Check out the Conservation Bridge website !



DNR and K-12 Students Success Stories

Several Department of Natural Resources Faculty and staff have been fostering engagement with K-12 education. See below for several examples of this engagement.

  • For the past two years, Dr. Rebecca Schneider has served as one of the science mentors for students at Briarcliff High School in Briarcliff Manor, NY.  The INTEL science internship program, lead by Ms. Kim Dyer, pairs each student with a researcher, either university or industry based, and over a 2 yr period, the researcher works with a student through the different steps of a research project.
  • Dr. Rebecca Schneider has been working with Steven Kalayam (now a graduating senior) investigating how improving desertifying soils with organic matter amendments will reduce water runoff. This project is a small offshoot of a project that a broader Cornell team is conducting in the Ningxia Autonomous Region of China. Specifically, Steve Kalayem measured and compared runoff curves from a soil microcosm containing soils with and without organic matter at 0 and 5% slopes. The project was aided by the generous loan of the rainfall simulator/ Robert Schindelbeck dripper from Dr. Harold van Es’s lab.
  • China soil team members include Drs. Rebecca Schneider, Harold van Es, Steve Morreale, Ruth Sherman, James Lassoie at  Cornell and Dr. Changxiao Li and Director Jian Li in China
  • Steven Kalayam’s project:

a) was the Grand Prize Winner at the Westchester Science and Engineering Fair,

b) won the US Stockholm Junior Water Prize Regional Award,

c) won the NOAA regional “Taking the Pulse of the Planet” award, and

d) also won honorable mention at the International Sustainable World (Engineering, Energy & Environment) Olympiad in Texas.