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Discovery that Connects

From fundamental insights to better plants, sustainably grown, serving the world

Cornell Biodiversify: Inclusive teaching workshop series (Aug 24 – 28)

People – including students and biologists – exhibit a diverse set of backgrounds and identities. However, most students are not exposed to a diversity of role models in science, and many students are taught science in a way that (often unintentionally) does not feel inclusive to them or their communities. Project Biodiversify is an initiative founded by ecology graduate students at Michigan State University and UC-Davis. The mission of Project Biodiversify is to create and distribute a repository of teaching materials and methods aimed at enhancing human diversity and inclusivity in biology courses.

Three Biodiversify teaching workshops are being sponsored by Cornell’s LGBT Resource Center in late August, with presentations given by Cornell graduate students including Andrew Scheldorf in the Field of Horticulture. Registration link

Title: Race is/not Biological

Bam Willoughby, Africana Studies, Monday, August 24 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Traditionally we accept that there is no biological basis for race. However, there is a lot about biology that has to do with race! This workshop seeks to privilege race in the teaching of sexual reproduction. This workshop will explore how teaching sexual reproduction has historically been about race. Come and learn how while there is no biological basis for race, race is still biological!

Inclusive teaching for LGBTQ+ students

Leland Graber, Entomology, Wednesday, August 26, 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Come learn about easily implementable ways to make your teaching more inclusive of LGBTQ+ students! Folks with any levels of experience with the LGBTQ+ community are encouraged to attend. Topics to be covered include navigating pronouns and preferred names, teaching sex and gender in an accurate and inclusive way, and how to better provide classroom representation for queer and trans students. The workshop component will allow instructors to use their own material and discuss with other participants the best ways to make their materials inclusive for LGBTQ+ students.

Teaching accurate and inclusive sexual selection

Andrew Scheldorf, Horticulture, Friday, August 28 3:00-4:00 pm

Sexual selection is a commonly taught topic in biology, but it can be taught in ways that exclude diverse gender and sexualities in nature and in humans. This short course is targeted at teaching sexual selection and other biological concepts in a more inclusive and accurate way that demonstrates the diversity found in nature and also allows the students to continue to learn about the interactive process of science.

Meeting registration link (will let you choose which you are interested in)

Doyle, Gadoury, and Osatuke: recipients of 2020 professional society awards

-Magdalen Lindeberg

COVID-19 may have forced scientific conferences to go online, but this has not impeded recognition of the many contributions made by SIPS faculty, staff, and students to their respective disciplines. Congratulations to Jeff Doyle, David Gadoury, and Anya Osatuke, recipients of awards from the scientific societies with which they are affiliated.

Jeff Doyle, member of the SIPS Plant Biology Section and recent chair of Plant Breeding & Genetics, was awarded the prestigious Asa Gray Award by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists. The award recognizes outstanding accomplishments pertinent to the goals of the Society.

Jeff’s research concerns the origin and evolution of polyploidy in plants, with a particular focus on soybean and related species. Nominators for the award cited the leading role that he has played in shaping the field of molecular systematics. His most highly cited paper describes a DNA extraction method, developed in collaboration with Jane Doyle and has been cited over 18,000 times. Additionally, he has mentored 19 graduate students, 18 postdoctoral scholars and 56 undergraduate students. Complete press release

David Gadoury, Senior Research Associate in the SIPS Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section working at CornellAgriTech, is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Volunteer Award from the American Phytopathological Society (APS). David has served APS in various capacities, most recently as chair of​ the APS Foundation. His advocacy of the Borlaug’s Army Initiative linked free undergraduate membership to internship programs, introducing hundreds of undergraduates to APS, many of whom are either now in graduate programs across the U.S., or are entering the workforce with graduate degrees.

Anya Osatuke, graduate student in the Field of Horticulture in the program of Marvin Pritts, is this year’s recipient of the UP Hedrick Award for her manuscript “Development of Quality Attributes in Strawberry Fruit: A Review”. The award is given by the American Pomological Society and named for horticulturalist U.P Hedrick after which Hedrick Hall on the Cornell AgriTech campus is named.

McDonald to offer course on systems analysis tools for agriculture

head shot of man in front of a brick wallAndy McDonald, Associate Professor in the SIPS Soil & Crop Sciences Section, is offering a new course on Systems analysis tools for problem solving in agriculture in Fall 2020. McDonald is a cropping systems ecologist who addresses global challenges to agricultural sustainability and food security through process-based agronomy, integrated systems analysis, development of decision frameworks, and by fostering alliances for technology scaling. Much of his current research program is anchored in South Asia where he previously led CIMMYT’s sustainable intensification program.

PLSCI 6940: Systems analysis tools for problem solving in agriculture

  • Fall Term, 2020
  • Wednesday 8:00 – 10:00 am (virtual instruction)
  • 1 credit (S/U only), graduate students or permission of instructor
  • Instructor:  Andrew McDonald (, Assoc. Prof – International Cropping Systems

Course Description:  Integrative assessment of agricultural systems forms an integral component of problem identification as well as the ex ante evaluation of potential solutions.   Nevertheless, there is no single assessment framework that works for all situations, and agricultural researchers and many development practitioners need to be conversant with several different type of systems analysis tools.  This course is intended to introduce students to a range of these tools by reviewing different classes of models, problems they can address, and the basics of use.  This course will be continued in the spring term with a focus on advanced applications with real data.

  • September 2: Course introduction, overview of key concepts, classes of tools, and software (Andrew McDonald)
  • September 9: An Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling (including Causal Loop Diagrams)
  • (Richard Dudley)
  • September 16: Dynamic simulation of the soil, plant, atmosphere system (Susan Riha)
  • September 23: Dynamic simulation:  model parameterization, application, and evaluation (Balwinder Singh, Andrew McDonald)
  • September 30: Accounting for GHG emissions from agriculture systems (Dominic Woolf)
  • October 7: Applying LCA frameworks (Sonam Sherpa)
  • October 14: Integrated crop-livestock simulation (Alison Laing)
  • October 21: Farming systems modelling and tradeoff analysis (Jeroen Groot)
  • October 28: Constructing, interpreting, and using farming systems typologies (Santiago
  • Ridaura Lopez)
  • November 4: Systems thinking for scaling of technologies (Lennart Woltering)
  • November 18: Predicting technology adoption dynamics (Brendan Brown)
  • November 25: Risk and value of information analysis (Keith Shepherd)
  • December 2: Developing a Theory of Change (Annalisa Raymer, Andrew McDonald)


Recent publications from the SIPS community – August 13, 2020

A soil colour map of China

Liu, F., Rossiter, D. G., Zhang, G.-L., and Li, D.-C. 2020. Geoderma 379:114556.

Chemical Ecology of Multitrophic Microbial Interactions: Plants, Insects, Microbes and the Metabolites that Connect Them

Ali, J. G., Casteel, C. L., Mauck, K. E., and Trase, O. 2020. Journal of Chemical Ecology.

Revisiting floral fusion: the evolution and molecular basis of a developmental innovation

Phillips, H. R., Landis, J. B., and Specht, C. D. 2020. Journal of Experimental Botany 71:3390-3404.

Experimental Manipulation of Pectin Architecture in the Cell Wall of the Unicellular Charophyte, Penium Margaritaceum

Palacio-Lopez, K., Sun, L., Reed, R., Kang, E., Sørensen, I., Rose, J. K. C., and Domozych, D. S. 2020. Frontiers in Plant Science 11.

Evaluation of Selection Methods for Resistance to a Specialist Insect Pest of Squash (Cucurbita pepo)

Brzozowski, L. J., and Mazourek, M. 2020. Agronomy 10:847.

Bridging old and new: diversity and evaluation of high iron-associated stress response of rice cultivated in West Africa

Diop, B., Wang, D. R., Drame, K. N., Gracen, V., Tongoona, P., Dzidzienyo, D., Nartey, E., Greenberg, A. J., Djiba, S., Danquah, E. Y., and McCouch, S. R. 2020. Journal of experimental botany 71:4188-4200.

Cloning of the rice Xo1 resistance gene and interaction of the Xo1 protein with the defense-suppressing Xanthomonas effector Tal2h

Read, A. C., Hutin, M., Moscou, M. J., Rinaldi, F. C., and Bogdanove, A. J. 2020. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.

August update from SIPS Director Chris Smart

Dear SIPS Community,

I hope your summer is going well, despite the many challenges. We do have some positive news to highlight.

  • Congratulations to Jeff Doyle who is the 2020 recipient the prestigious Asa Gray award presented by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists!
  • Congratulations to Don Rakow for his 2020 SHIFT Award from the nonprofit Center for Jackson Hole. This award recognizes individuals, initiatives, or organizations that make innovative, impactful and replicable contributions to the advancement of the health benefits of time outside.

Fall Semester Updates


Plans for Bradfield and Plant Science renovation continue to move forward. The SIPS building committee as well as section chairs have been involved with the Plant Science renovation plans. Additionally, input from faculty and others in every section has been welcome. Your input is key to ensuring that our renovated Plant Science Building will serve our needs. Please reach out to your section chairs and committee members for more info. There is also information available on the renovation page of the SIPS website.

2019 – 2020 Faculty Search updates:

  • Plant synthetic biology: Great news! Laura Gunn has accepted the position and will be joining the faculty May 1, 2021.
  • Genomics-empowered biology of plant pathogenic fungi: Negotiations are nearly complete, and we hope to have good news in the September update.
  • Breeding for Sustainable Forage Cropping Systems: Negotiations are in process, and we hope to have good news in the September update.
  • Physiology of fruit crop adaptation to climate change: Candidate interviews in process, state quarantines due to Covid-19 have slowed the search.

Congratulations to the following people who were recognized with a SIPS Kudos in the last month! Thanks for your effort and passion in support of SIPS.

Building Mastery and Skill: Tara Reed, Savanna Shelnutt, Allison DeSario

Creativity and ideas: Kellie Damann, Michele Blackmore

Going Above & Beyond: Dan Holcomb, Ian Bishop, Jack Satterlee, James Cagle, Karin Jantz, Leah Cook, Mandy Kafka, Roli Wilhelm, Steve Hatfield

Inspirational Leadership: Adrienne Roeder

Strong Team Spirit: Audrey Klein, Derek Parsons, Paul Stachowski

PLEASE remember to recognize people in our SIPS community that have gone out of their way to enhance our School. All you have to do is complete the brief form here

Take care,


Recent publications from the SIPS community – August 6, 2020

Autopolyploidy: an epigenetic macromutation

Doyle, J. J., and Coate, J. E. 2020. American Journal of Botany n/a.

Anthropogenic and Inherent Effects on Soil Organic Carbon across the U.S.

Nunes, M. R., van Es, H. M., Veum, K. S., Amsili, J. P., and Karlen, D. L. 2020. Sustainability 12:5695.

Systemic Uptake of Fluorescent Tracers by Soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) Seed and Seedlings

Wang, Z., Amirkhani, M., Avelar, S. A. G., Yang, D., and Taylor, A. G. 2020. Agriculture 10:248.

Organo-mineral interactions and soil carbon mineralizability with variable saturation cycle frequency

Possinger, A. R., Bailey, S. W., Inagaki, T. M., Kögel-Knabner, I., Dynes, J. J., Arthur, Z. A., and Lehmann, J. 2020. Geoderma 375:114483.

Transcriptome analysis of contrasting resistance to herbivory by Empoasca fabae in two shrub willow species and their hybrid progeny

Wang, W., Carlson, C. H., Smart, L. B., and Carlson, J. E. 2020. PLOS ONE 15:e0236586.

Diversity and Inclusion in SIPS: Discussion with Graduate Students

Meeting Minutes
July 29, 2020 via Zoom
Minutes: Cindy Twardokus

The meeting was attended by thirty-eight people which included members of the SIPS Executive Committee, Directors of Graduate Studies and Graduate students.

Purpose and goal of meeting (Chris and Hale)

  • Chris –
    • ‘What can we do to increase diversity, equality, inclusion, anti-racism and social justice within SIPS?’
    • Meeting scheduled to gain insight from graduate students.
    • The Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Council on the Ithaca campus with coordinate with the D&I Council on the Geneva campus. As each campus has different needs, there is justification for separate, yet coordinated councils.
    • Hale – Goal today is to listen. Ideas will be presented and discussion welcomed.


All attendees introduced themselves along with a statement of what they hoped to gain from the meeting.

Summary of SIPS Culture Change Proposed Action Plan shared by Hale:


1. New D&I Council

  • Concern voiced about why and how decisions were made as to who would serve on the D&I Council. Suggested that process was not transparent and that some graduate students were unaware there would be a vote to choose representatives to the council.
  • Questions raised as to the purpose/function of the council
  • With the addition of the new D&I Council, issue raised about the future of SIPS-ABC group.
  • Concerns acknowledged and questions responded to with explanation that intent was for graduate students to choose their own council representatives; the council will function as a centralized group making decisions regarding diversity and inclusion issues in SIPS through coordination and representation of all sections; the council will build on rather than replace the work of the SIPS-ABC group and act to re-energize the group by providing a leadership structure.
  • Suggestion made to let the SIPS Graduate School Council choose two representatives from each section.
  • Suggestion made for first order of business should be to draft a governance document stating charge of the council and detailing operating procedures. This document would help provide continuity of the council. Document should be made available to entire SIPS community for comments.

2. Update 2017 gender and diversity audit

Data has been collected and results will be posted to SIPS website.

3 – 11. See “Summary of SIPS Culture Change Proposed Action Plan.”

Other subjects discussed:

  • How will council keep all of SIPS informed and how will SIPS hold people accountable and enforce actions of the council?
  • Hale serves as the D&I representative on the SIPS Executive Committee
  • Mandatory training?
  • Communicate and accept feedback on actions in positive manner
  • Expectation of positive social norms
  • Make D&I involvement a part of the annual performance review
  • Continue to grow and develop a process for communication/transparency
  • Concerns raised that some PI’s may push back on the idea of graduate students spending time away from research to serve on D&I Council. General response that students should be allowed to serve as good citizens and that perhaps service could be rewarded by acknowledgement of participation in letters of recommendation. Also, PI’s who push back should be encouraged to think about all working for the good of society.
  • SIPS intends to recognize all of the prior, current and future student contributions that are not part of the council.
  • Chris summarized the SIPS leadership structure noting that decisions concerning graduate students are made by the graduate fields.
  • Jenny stated that allyship is needed to increase diversity within SIPS in addition to emphasizing the need for extension activities that reach a broader cross-section of stakeholders in the state

Action items:

  • The SIPS Graduate School Council will decide the appropriate number and selection process for graduate student representatives to the SIPS D&I Council. The Council will also choose their representatives and submit a list to Hale Tufan by September 1, 2020.
  • The SIPS Graduate School Council will decide how often graduate students will meet with the SIPS Executive Committee and Directors of Graduate Studies and what topics will be discussed.
  • Discussion will take place on the future of SIPS-ABC in regards to the newly established SIPS D&I Council.
  • Survey will be conducted to evaluate this meeting.

Recent publications from the SIPS community – July 30, 2020

A Standard Methodology for Evaluation of Mechanical Maize Seed Meters for Smallholder Farmers Comparing Devices from Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia

Van Loon, J., Krupnik, T. J., López-Gómez, J. A., Timsina, J., and Govaerts, B. 2020. Agronomy 10:1091.

Machine learning: A powerful tool for gene function prediction in plants

Mahood, E. H., Kruse, L. H., and Moghe, G. D. 2020. Applications in Plant Sciences n/a:e11376.

Complete Genome Sequence Resource for the Necrotrophic Plant-Pathogenic Bacterium Pectobacterium carotovorum WPP14.

Liu, Y., Helmann, T., Stodghill, P., and Filiatrault , M. 2020. Plant Disease 0:null.

Multiple QTL Mapping in Autopolyploids: A Random-Effect Model Approach with Application in a Hexaploid Sweetpotato Full-Sib Population

da Silva Pereira, G., Gemenet, D. C., Mollinari, M., Olukolu, B. A., Wood, J. C., Diaz, F., Mosquera, V., Gruneberg, W. J., Khan, A., Buell, C. R., Yencho, G. C., and Zeng, Z.-B. 2020. Genetics 215:579-595.

Eco-physiological processes are more sensitive to simulated N deposition in leguminous forbs than non-leguminous forbs in an alpine meadow of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

Shen, H., Dong, S., DiTommaso, A., Li, S., Xiao, J., Yang, M., Zhang, J., Gao, X., Xu, Y., Zhi, Y., Liu, S., Dong, Q., Wang, W., Liu, P., and Xu, J. 2020. Science of The Total Environment 744:140612.

Persistence of soil organic carbon caused by functional complexity

Lehmann, J., Hansel, C. M., Kaiser, C., Kleber, M., Maher, K., Manzoni, S., Nunan, N., Reichstein, M., Schimel, J. P., Torn, M. S., Wieder, W. R., and Kögel-Knabner, I. 2020. Nature Geoscience 13:529-534.

Weed community structure and soybean yields in a long-term organic cropping systems experiment

Ball, M. G., Caldwell, B. A., DiTommaso, A., Drinkwater, L. E., Mohler, C. L., Smith, R. G., and Ryan, M. R. 2019. Weed Science 67:673-681.

Transgenic overexpression of rubisco subunits and the assembly factor RAF1 are beneficial to recovery from drought stress in maize

Doron, L., Xu, L., Rachmilevitch, S., and Stern, D. B. 2020. Environmental and Experimental Botany 177:104126.

Recent publications from the SIPS community – July 23, 2020

Urban Rooftop Agriculture: Challenges to Science and Practice

Harada, Y., and Whitlow, T. H. 2020. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 4.

Ectopic expression of miRNA172 in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) reveals novel function in fruit development through regulation of an AP2 transcription factor.

Chung, M.-Y., Nath, U. K., Vrebalov, J., Gapper, N., Lee, J. M., Lee, D.-J., Kim, C. K., and Giovannoni, J. 2020. BMC plant biology 20:283.

The Leaf Economics Spectrum Constrains Phenotypic Plasticity Across a Light Gradient.

Chen, X., Sun, J., Wang, M., Lyu, M., Niklas, K. J., Michaletz, S. T., Zhong, Q., and Cheng, D. 2020. Frontiers in Plant Science 11.

Cercospora beticola: The intoxicating lifestyle of the leaf spot pathogen of sugar beet.

Rangel, L. I., Spanner, R. E., Ebert, M. K., Pethybridge, S. J., Stukenbrock, E. H., de Jonge, R., Secor, G. A., and Bolton, M. D. 2020. Molecular Plant Pathology 21:1020-1041.

The Frequency of Sex: Population Genomics Reveals Differences in Recombination and Population Structure of the Aflatoxin-Producing Fungus Aspergillus flavus

Drott, M. T., Satterlee, T. R., Skerker, J. M., Pfannenstiel, B. T., Glass, N. L., Keller, N. P., and Milgroom, M. G. 2020. mBio 11:e00963-00920.

A genome resource of Setosphaeria turcica, causal agent of northern leaf blight of maize.

Cao, Z., Zhang, K., Guo, X., Turgeon, G., and Dong, J. 2020. Phytopathology 0:null.

Soil Nitrogen Fertilization Increases Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen Concentrations in ‘Golden Russet’ and ‘Medaille d’Or’ Apples Used for Cider Production.

Karl, A. D., Brown, M. G., Ma, S., Sandbrook, A., Stewart, A. C., Cheng, L., Mansfield, A. K., and Peck, G. M. 2020. HortScience 1.

Foliar Urea Applications Increase Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen Concentration and Alcoholic Fermentation Rate in ‘Red Spy’ Apples Used for Cider Production

Karl, A. D., Brown, M. G., Ma, S., Sandbrook, A., Stewart, A. C., Cheng, L., Mansfield, A. K., and Peck, G. M. 2020. HortScience 1.

Black plastic tarps advance organic reduced tillage II: Impacts on weeds and beet yield.

Rylander, H.R., Rangarajan, A., Maher, R.M., Hutton, M.G., Rowley, N.W., McGrath, M.T., and Sexton, Z.F. 2020. HortScience 55:826-831.

Black Plastic Tarps Advance Organic Reduced Tillage I: Impact on Soils, Weed Seed Survival, and Crop Residue.

Rylander, H., Rangarajan, A., Maher, R. M., Hutton, M. G., Rowley, N. W., McGrath, M. T., and Sexton, Z. F. 2020.   55:819.

Ten Years of the Maize Nested Association Mapping Population: Impact, Limitations, and Future Directions.

Gage, J. L., Monier, B., Giri, A., and Buckler, E. S. 2020.  The Plant Cell 32:2083-2093.

Removal of atmospheric CO2 by rock weathering holds promise for mitigating climate change.

Lehmann, J. and Possiger, A. 2020.  Nature 583: 204-205.

Recent publications from the SIPS community – July 16, 2020

Wood anatomy of the neotropical liana lineage Paullinia L. (Sapindaceae).

Chery, J. G., Neto, I. L. d. C., Pace, M. R., Acevedo-Rodríguez, P., Specht, C. D., and Rothfels, C. J. 2020. IAWA Journal:1.

Field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis): “all tied up”.

Sosnoskie, L. M., Hanson, B. D., and Steckel, L. E. 2020. Weed Technology:1-6.

Divergence of defensive cucurbitacins in independent Cucurbita pepo domestication events leads to differences in specialist herbivore preference.

Brzozowski, L. J., Gore, M. A., Agrawal, A. A., and Mazourek, M.  Plant, Cell & Environment n/a.

Metabolic networks of the Nicotiana genus in the spotlight: content, progress and outlook.

Foerster, H., Battey, J. N. D., Sierro, N., Ivanov, N. V., and Mueller, L. A. 2020. Briefings in bioinformatics.

Scented nectar and the challenge of measuring honest signals in pollination.

Burdon, R. C. F., Raguso, R. A., Gegear, R. J., Pierce, E. C., Kessler, A., and Parachnowitsch, A. L. 2020. Journal of Ecology n/a.

KASP Genotyping as a Molecular Tool for Diagnosis of Cassava-Colonizing Bemisia tabaci.

Wosula, E. N., Chen, W., Amour, M., Fei, Z., and Legg, J. P. 2020. Insects 11:305.

Recurrent genomic selection for wheat grain fructans

Veenstra, L. D., Poland, J., Jannink, J.-L., and Sorrells, M. E. 2020. . Crop Science 60:1499-1512.

Crop density affects weed suppression in organically managed Sunflower

Mouillon, P., Caldwell, B. A., Cordeau, S., Pelzer, C. J., Wayman, S., and Ryan, M. R. 2020.  Agronomy Journal 112:450-457.

Life Cycle Assessment and Technoeconomic Analysis of Thermochemical Conversion Technologies Applied to Poultry Litter with Energy and Nutrient Recovery

Bora, R. R., Lei, M., Tester, J. W., Lehmann, J., and You, F. 2020. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 8:8436-8447.

Machine learning in space and time for modelling soil organic carbon change

Heuvelink, G. B. M., Angelini, M. E., Poggio, L., Bai, Z., Batjes, N. H., van den Bosch, R., Bossio, D., Estella, S., Lehmann, J., Olmedo, G. F., and Sanderman, J. 2020. European Journal of Soil Science n/a.

The many roads to and from multicellularity

Niklas, K. J., and Newman, S. A. 2019. Journal of experimental botany 71:3247-3253.

Attack and aggregation of a major squash pest: Parsing the role of plant chemistry and beetle pheromones across spatial scales

Brzozowski, L. J., Gardner, J., Hoffmann, M. P., Kessler, A., Agrawal, A. A., and Mazourek, M. 2020. . Journal of Applied Ecology n/a.

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