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Discovery that Connects

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

Recent publications from the SIPS community – February 14, 2019

Fire-derived organic matter retains ammonia through covalent bond formation.

Hestrin, R., Torres-Rojas, D., Dynes, J.J., Hook, J.M., Regier, T.Z., Gillespie, A.W., Smernik, R.J., and Lehmann, J. 2019. Nature communications 10:664.

Non-destructive prediction of soluble solids and dry matter contents in eight apple cultivars using near-infrared spectroscopy.

Zhang, Y., Nock, J.F., Al Shoffe, Y., and Watkins, C.B. 2019. Postharvest Biology and Technology 151:111-118.

Effect of tree type and rootstock on the long-term performance of ‘Gala’, ‘Fuji’ and ‘Honeycrisp’ apple trees trained to Tall Spindle under New York State climatic conditions.

Reig, G., Lordan, J., Miranda Sazo, M., Hoying, S.A., Fargione, M.J., Hernan Reginato, G., Donahue, D.J., Francescatto, P., Fazio, G., and Robinson, T.L. 2019. Scientia Horticulturae 246:506-517.

An imputation platform to enhance integration of rice genetic resources.

Wang, D.R., Agosto-Pérez, F.J., Chebotarov, D., Shi, Y., Marchini, J., Fitzgerald, M., McNally, K.L., Alexandrov, N., and McCouch, S.R. 2018. Nature communications 9:3519.

Baseline Sensitivity of Penicillium spp. to Difenoconazole.

Jurick, W.M., Macarisin, O., Gaskins, V.L., Janisiewicz, W.J., Peter, K.A., and Cox, K.D. 2018. Plant Disease 103:331-337.

Integrated Effects of Genetic Resistance and Prothioconazole + Tebuconazole Application Timing on Fusarium Head Blight in Wheat.

Paul, P.A., Salgado, J.D., Bergstrom, G., Bradley, C.A., Byamukama, E., Byrne, A.M., Chapara, V., Cummings, J.A., Chilvers, M.I., Dill-Macky, R., Friskop, A., Kleczewski, N., Madden, L.V., Nagelkirk, M., Stevens, J., Smith, M., Wegulo, S.N., Wise, K., and Yabwalo, D. 2018.  Plant Disease 103:223-237.

Annual Under-Vine Cover Crops Mitigate Vine Vigor in a Mature and Vigorous Cabernet franc Vineyard.

Chou, M.-Y., and Vanden Heuvel, J.E. 2018. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture:ajev.2018.18037.

Extensive membrane systems at the host–arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus interface.

Ivanov, S., Austin, J., Berg, R.H., and Harrison, M.J. 2019. Nature Plants 5:194-203.

Hernandez selected as Yale Ciencia Academy Fellow

Adriana Hernandez

Adriana Hernandez, graduate student in the program of Chelsea Specht, has been selected as a 2019 fellow of the Yale Ciencia Academy for Career Development (YCA). Hernandez and other YCA fellows will kick off their year by attending the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC (February 14-18, 2019).

As described in her YCA biographical sketch, Hernandez received her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she completed ethnobotanical research on the Mescalero Apache’s ceremonial use of cattail pollen with Ines Talamantez. Her interest in botany developed into a position as technician and lab manager at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where she completed population genetics and ecological research to preserve California’s rare and endangered native plants. The results of this research were adopted by land managers in the Channel Islands of California and formed the basis of a mitigation project. Hernandez is continuing biodiversity and conservation research in the Specht lab at Cornell through studies of the evolutionary development and climatic niches of polymorphic lilies. As a Mexican immigrant, first-generation college graduate, and aspiring professor, Adriana works toward leveraging her experiences to overcome systemic injustices; to cultivate inclusive settings, identify students in need of academic support, and help their development toward scholarship and the exploration of diverse career paths.

YCA provides graduate students with opportunities for mentoring, networking, and skills development, and for making contributions to their communities through science outreach. The program is led by the non-profit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico (CienciaPR), in collaboration with Yale University.

CienciaPR is a nonprofit organization that connects over 10,000 Puerto Rican and Hispanic scientists, students, and educators worldwide through an innovative online platform. By leveraging its community’s collective knowledge, the organization has created thousands of resources to improve science education and help forge the next generation of Hispanic/Latinx STEM leaders.

Read the press release of Hernandez’s award

SIPS grad connects with Skype a Scientist

map of Skype a Scientist classrooms and scientists in the US

-Magdalen Lindeberg
Interested in science outreach but don’t have much time?  Want to provide a “new face of science” for students who only know Hollywood stereotypes? Consider participating in Skype a Scientist, a program that connects scientists with classrooms around the world.

SIPS graduate student Morgan Carter was recently recorded on “Locally Sourced Science (LSS)”, a WRFI program featuring science explorations and events happening in the Finger Lakes Region. Interviewed for LSS by fellow graduate student Nick Segerson, Carter described her experiences using Skype a Scientist to talk with students across the country. Reflecting that many students have never met someone who does scientific research, they often think meeting a “real scientist from Cornell” is pretty cool. Carter added that the students’ background and level of knowledge is often a mystery and she’s sometimes asked questions for which she doesn’t know the answer. “This can be a fun challenge like when I was asked by students to name the deadliest plant. I had no idea, but I brought the conversation around to how different plants can be toxic to different animals”.  She also commented that the experience has been her more mindful of how some students’ lives and opportunities differ greatly from her own.

Carter has participated in many types of science outreach during her time at Cornell, but as she focuses on completing her thesis, the bite-sized outreach made possible by Skype-a-Scientist represents a more manageable time commitment.

Surya Saha, Senior Bioinformatics Analyst at the Boyce Thompson Institute, has also participated in the program, speaking with elementary and middle school students about citrus greening disease. Saha commented that he has found the experience very enjoyable and has been impressed by the insightful questions he has received.

Listen to Segerson’s full interview with Carter about her Skype a Scientist experience

Recent publications from the SIPS community – February 7, 2019

Impact of Abrostola asclepiadis combined with other stressors on invasive swallow-worts (Vincetoxicum species)

Milbrath, L.R., Biazzo, J., DiTommaso, A., and Morris, S.H. 2019. Biological Control 130:118-126.

Natural fruitlet abscission as related to apple tree carbon balance estimated with the MaluSim model

Lordan, J., Reginato, G.H., Lakso, A.N., Francescatto, P., and Robinson, T.L. 2019. Scientia Horticulturae 247:296-309.

Fruit color stability, anthocyanin content, and shelf life were not correlated with ethylene production rate in five primocane raspberry genotypes

Palonen, P., and Weber, C. 2019. Scientia Horticulturae 247:9-16.

Ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions from a field Ultisol amended with tithonia green manure, urea, and biochar

Fungo, B., Lehmann, J., Kalbitz, K., Thionģo, M., Tenywa, M., Okeyo, I., and Neufeldt, H. 2019. Biology and Fertility of Soils 55:135-148.

The Ecology of Agrobacterium vitis and Management of Crown Gall Disease in Vineyards

Kuzmanović, N., Puławska, J., Hao, L., and Burr, T.J. 2018. Pages 15-53 in: Agrobacterium Biology: From Basic Science to Biotechnology, S.B. Gelvin, ed. Springer International Publishing, Cham.

February Update from SIPS Director Chris Smart

Dear SIPS Community

SIPS will have an external academic program review April 7-10, 2019. Learn more about the review team and see the draft schedule here

Active Learning Update. I’m happy to announce that SIPS was awarded an Active Learning Initiative grant from the provost. This grant will enable inclusion and assessment of active learning in the ten core courses of the Plant Sciences major (over five years). We will be hiring two discipline-based education postdocs and will also have funds for two additional graduate TAships per semester. As part of the grant, I will be including an update each month to inform the SIPS community of progress as well as opportunities for everyone to get involved.

Faculty search updates: Please forward position links to potential applicants!

  • Assistant Professor: Grape Disease Ecology & Epidemiology. On-site interviews of the three top candidates occurred in January. The search committee and section faculty will be meeting soon to discuss and make a recommendation.
  • Assistant/Associate Professor: Specialty Crop Systems. The search committee has held zoom interviews and is recommending to the Horticulture Section that four candidates be invited for in-person interviews.
  • Assistant/Associate Professor: Digital Agriculture: Agronomy. The search committee is reviewing applications.
  • Assistant/Associate Professor: Breeding for Sustainable Forage Cropping Systems. Position description can be found at The search committee will begin reviewing applications soon.

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. I was very happy to see that SIPS members beyond the Ithaca campus were included this month (Kate is on the Geneva AgriTech campus). Looking forward to Kudos from LIHREC, HVRL, and CLEREL!

  • Magdalen Lindeberg (going above and beyond)
  • Leslie Larson (creativity and ideas)
  • Cindy Twardokus (strong team spirit AND building mastery and skill) – TWO kudos!
  • Alicia Caswell (going above and beyond) – TWO kudos in this category!
  • Kate Keagle (going above and beyond) – TWO kudos in this category!
  • Betsy Lamb (strong team spirit)
  • Neil Mattson (strong team spirit)
  • Leah Cook (strong team spirit)

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:

All the best,



Expanding Your Horizons: join a SIPS tradition of inspiring the next generation

-Magdalen Lindeberg

Middle school participants observing dye transport in sunflower leaves during EYH 2017 (photo: Craig Cramer)

Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) is a nationwide network that aims to inspire girls to recognize their potential and opportunities in STEM fields. Graduate students, faculty, and staff in the SIPS sections (and former departments) have a long history of creating exciting and engaging activities for the visiting students. In recent years these have included a “Plant Doctor” workshop where 7th-9th grade girls learned about plant disease from PPPMB staff and grad students and a “Engineers of Nature: How do plants drink?” workshop presented by the Bauerle Lab.

EYH 2019 will be held on Saturday April 27th, 2019. If you are interested in organizing a demonstration for EYH 2019, fill out a 2019 EYH Demo Application Form and email to by 11:59 pm on Friday February 15th, 2019.

Read more about past workshops and activities:

SIPS Program Review scheduled for April 8 – 10

-Magdalen Lindeberg

The School of Integrative Plant Science will be hosting a program review in April, and all SIPS faculty, staff, and students urged to participate. Requested by the Cornell Provost, the goal of the review is to solicit input from respected peers about the health and direction of the School. Reviewers are charged with reviewing the progress made in implementing  our founding vision, the extent to which we are addressing needs and opportunities, and the quality of the training we provide to our students, among other questions.

External review team:

  • Julia Bailey-Serres, Director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology and Distinguished Professor of Genetics, UC-Riverside
  • Charlie Brummer, Director and Professor, Center for Plant Breeding, Plant Sciences Department, UC-Davis.
  • Irwin Goldman, Professor and Chair, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin
  • Cindy Nakatsu, Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University
  • Alison Robertson, Professor and Extension Field Pathologist, Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University

In addition to meetings with SIPS and CALS leadership, extension leaders, DGSs and others, there will be several opportunities for SIPS faculty, staff, and students to meet with the review team.  You are urged to put these times on your calendars and attend it at all possible!

Lunch with Ithaca-based grad students and undergraduates
Monday, April 8, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, Bradfield G04 and Plant Science G22
(review team will divide into two groups)

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS faculty
Monday, April 8, 3:30 – 4:40 pm, 135 Emerson

Meeting with Geneva-based SIPS faculty
Tuesday, April 9, 10:15 – 11:15 am, in Geneva

Meeting with Geneva-based SIPS staff
Tuesday, April 9, 11:15 – 11:45 am, in Geneva

Lunch with Geneva-based SIPS students and post-docs
Tuesday, April 9, 12:15 – 1:15 pm, in Geneva

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS post-docs
Tuesday, April 9, 3:30 – 3:45 pm, 336 Plant Science

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS faculty those unable to attend the Monday meeting
Tuesday, April 9, 3:45 – 5:00 pm, 404 Plant Science

Meeting with Ithaca-based SIPS staff
Wednesday, April 10, 10:30 – 11:15 pm, 133 Plant Science

Exit Meeting with Review Teamall interested SIPS personnel welcome
Wednesday, April 10, 1:15 – 1:45 pm, 135 Emerson

Recent publications from the SIPS community – January 31, 2019

The renaissance of comparative biochemistry.

Smith, S.D., Angelovici, R., Heyduk, K., Maeda, H.A., Moghe, G.D., Pires, J.C., Widhalm, J.R., and Wisecaver, J.H. 2019. American Journal of Botany 106:3-13.

Polyploidy, the Nucleotype, and Novelty: The Impact of Genome Doubling on the Biology of the Cell

Doyle, J.J., and Coate, J.E. 2019. International Journal of Plant Sciences 180:1-52.

Optimal inverse estimation of ecosystem parameters from observations of carbon and energy fluxes

Dutta, D., Schimel, D.S., Sun, Y., van der Tol, C., and Frankenberg, C. 2019. Biogeosciences 16:77-103.

The role of ear environment in postharvest susceptibility of maize to toxigenic Aspergillus flavus

Mutiga, S.K., Chepkwony, N., Hoekenga, O.A., Flint-Garcia, S.A., and Nelson, R.J. 2019. Plant Breeding 138:38-50.

Ectopic expression of ORANGE promotes carotenoid accumulation and fruit development in tomato

Yazdani, M., Sun, Z., Yuan, H., Zeng, S., Thannhauser, T.W., Vrebalov, J., Ma, Q., Xu, Y., Fei, Z., Van Eck, J., Tian, S., Tadmor, Y., Giovannoni, J.J., and Li, L. 2019. Plant Biotechnology Journal 17:33-49.

Gene expression monitoring for risk assessment of apple and pear fruit storage stress and physiological disorders

Rudell, D., Leisso, R.S., Mattheis, J.P., Giovannoni, J.J., Gapper, N.E., Nicolai, B., Watkins, C.B., Johnston, W.W., Hertog, M.L.,  Schaffer, R.J.  U.S. Patent No. 10, 174, 378; U.S. Patent App. 15/069,952. Awarded 1/8/2019.

Development of an integrated 200K SNP genotyping array and application for genetic mapping, genome assembly improvement and GWAS in pear (Pyrus).

Li, X., Singh, J., Qin, M., Li, S., Zhang, X., Zhang, M., Khan, A., Zhang, S., and Wu, J. 2019. Plant Biotechnology Journal 0.

SIPS Faculty Teaching Group to start meeting in February

The SIPS Teaching Faculty Group is open to everyone in SIPS interested in teaching. We will get together every 4 to 6 weeks to talk about ideas and issues around teaching resources, tech, projects, brainstorming about new courses, help with ideas on content, and to connect and see what others are doing in their classrooms. Again, this is very informal; everyone is welcome, and if you would like to present at a future meeting, please contact Carlyn Buckler to be added to the schedule. The time/day of meeting can be adjusted to accommodate schedules. The first meeting will be Friday, 15 Feb, from 3:00PM to approx. 4:00PM in PLS G22 No speaker, but there are several new faculty that might benefit from hearing others talk about what they are doing, new courses, etc.  Margaret Frank, Plant Bio, will be talking at the March meeting. Any questions, or if you’d like a slot on the schedule, contact Carlyn Buckler (csb36).

DiTommaso honored by Northeastern Weed Science Society

-Magdalen Lindeberg
Congratulations to Toni DiTommaso, Professor & Chair, SIPS Soil and Crop Sciences Section, for receiving the 2019 Fellow Award from the Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS).  DiTommaso received the award at The Northeastern Plant, Pest, and Soils Conference held January 8-10, 2019 in Hunt Valley, MD.  The Fellow award is one of the highest honors the NEWSS Society presents.  The purpose of this award is to recognize those members who have made significant contributions to the NEWSS and to Weed Science in the Northeast.

The Northeastern Plant, Pest, and Soils Conference (NEPPSC) is organized in cooperation with the Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS), the Northeast Branch of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America (NE ASA-CSAA-SSSA), and the American Society of Horticultural Science-Northeast Region (NE-ASHS). The goal of this meeting is provide a venue to bring together people with interests in entomology, plant pathology, weeds, horticulture, agriculture, agronomy, and soil science for the purpose of sharing of ideas and the presentation of the results of scientific studies and outreach programs.

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