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Discovery that Connects

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

SIPS Graduate Students March for Science

Graduate students from all five SIPS sections joined the many Cornell faculty, staff, and students who traveled to Washington DC for last Saturday’s March for Science.

Bill Weldon and Andy Read, who drove down with a large group from Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, reflected on the positive atmosphere of the event, with marchers highlighting the many contributions of science.  Read praised the organizers for the speaker lineup, with speakers of diverse backgrounds giving short talks interspersed with music. Breanne Kisselstein commented, “It was an amazing time in DC, hearing Bill Nye and “SAVE THE EPA” chants.”

Morgan Carter, also in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, traveled on one of three buses sponsored by Cornell’s Advancing Science and Policy (ASAP) group. She reflected on how good it felt to be surrounded by people with a shared passion for science. Like many others attending from Cornell, this was Carter’s first time to march in Washington.  “I’m driven to do science because it benefits people”, Carter commented. “I wanted to emphasize that I’m here to help and that science can help everyone.”

Earlier in April, Carter traveled to Washington with a group of 18 graduate and professional students as part of Cornell Advocacy Day. Carter and Read discussed strategies for influencing science policy, learned in BME 4440 – Science Policy: from Concept to Conclusion, and from the recent GSA-sponsored speaker, Food Systems Policy Analyst Elizabeth Stulberg. “She really took the mystery out of contacting your representatives”, said Read. Carter added, “You can really make a difference by calling someone like Tom Reed about less partisan issues, like the importance of including research funding in the Farm Bill.”

PPPMB student Anthony Wenndt commented, “For me, the most meaningful part of attending the march was the magnitude of the event. It was incredibly powerful and invigorating to stand alongside thousands of others who cherish truth and recognize the importance of evidence-informed decision making. Moreover, since the event attracted delegations from around the country, the march served as a valuable opportunity to reinforce networks and partnerships.  I left D.C. with a deeper understanding of the complex relationships between politics and facts, and a galvanized sense of unity with the scientific community.”

Others from SIPS attended the Ithaca March for Science including Jeff Doyle, Chair of Plant Breeding and Genetics (photo below) and Tyler McCann from PPPMB.

A big thank you to Juana Munoz Ucros, Bill Weldon, Carson Letot, Zoe Dubrow, Adrienne Gorny, Breanne Kisselstein, Alyssa Blachez, Andy Read, Gwynne Lim, Eugene Law, Morgan Carter, Anthony Wenndt, Mia Howard, Tyler McCann, Mischa Olson, and Jeff Doyle for providing photos and information.

Robert Lozano (PBG), Hannah Swegarden (Hort), Maria Gannett (Hort), and Nate Winston
Carson Letot (Hort) channels his inner Matt Damon



PPPMB students Alyssa Blachez, Zoe Dubrow, Mike Fulcher, Breanne Kisselstein, and Bill Weldon


The Bogdanove Lab was well represented
Gwynne Lim (Plant Bio) attended with her family
New York State brewers benefit from scientific research!
Past PPPMB graduate student Chris Becker represents scab, blight, canker, and rot!


































Mischa Olson and Dana Robinson (Plant Bio)
Jane and Jeff Doyle wore Mexican lab coats to the Ithaca March for Science in support of science and international collaboration

SIPS Director Chris Smart outlines research and extension needs at the 2017 Industrial Hemp Summit

SIPS Interim Director Chris Smart and SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance (photo: Matt Hayes)

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo convened the Industrial Hemp Summit on April 18 at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and new plans were announced to foster growth of a crop for which cultivation has been long banned across the U.S.

The hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) has been used historically for its fiber, oil and medicinal properties. There are genetically distinct biotypes of hemp, some of which have low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, the principal intoxicating agent in marijuana types of Cannabis. These low-THC biotypes types (referred to as industrial hemp or simply hemp) are used for fiber, hempseed oil, and seed production. Leveraging the benefits of location and  industry-government-academia partnerships, New York is poised to capitalize on emerging new markets for hemp products.

Research and Extension Needs:

School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) Interim Director Chris Smart spoke on critical areas where research and extension are needed to ensure optimal productivity and quality of industrial hemp in New York State.

  • Identify best practices for optimal hemp performance in different locations across New York
  • Assess seed quality and vigor, and enhance stand establishment by seed treatments
  • Identify key hemp pests in New York State
  • Develop and extend hemp resources to New York growers
  • Initiate an industrial hemp breeding program for New York State

During the panel discussion “Researching Hemp’s Potential in the State of New York”, Don Viands (SIPS Section of Plant Breeding and Genetics) reported results from the first year of hemp trials.

Hemp in New York:

The 2014 U.S. Farm Bill legalized the growth of hemp for research by departments of agriculture or higher education institutions in states where it has been approved by law.  Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell and State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, sponsored legislation that created New York’s pilot program. Governor Cuomo signed the law in December 2015. Cornell University and SUNY Morrisville were issued research permits in 2016, with subsequent authorization granted to SUNY Sullivan and Binghamton University.

New York Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo ((photo: Matt Hayes)







Read More:

SIPS faculty, staff, and students inspire young female scientists during “Expanding your Horizons”

Cornell faculty and graduate students welcomed girls in grades 7-9 to campus April 15 to learn about STEM and discover role models in the fields of science and mathduring The Cornell Expanding Your Horizons conference.

Participating SIPS research groups included horticulture graduate students in the Bauerle Lab — Annika Huber, Juana Muñoz Ucros, and Marie Zwetsloot — who led workshop sessions on “Engineers of Nature: How do plants drink?”

Annika Huber works with middle school participants to observe dye transport in sunflower leaf veins (photo: Craig Cramer)

Alyssa Blanchez, Martha Sudermann, Zoe Dubrow, and Mary McKellar from the Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology led the “Somebody Call the Plant Doctor” workshop – introducing  students to plant diseases and the use of Koch’s Postulates to identify their causes.

PPPMB students Alyssa Branchez, Zoe Dubrow, and Martha Sudermann
Teaching “Somebody Call the Plant Doctor” (photo: Megan Daniels)








Ed Cobb led a tour of selected plants found in the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory. Highlights included learning about the biology of cacti, a visit to the parasitic plants, and an introduction to economically important plants growing in the conservatory such as coffee, vanilla, pineapple, and citrus. Participants also learned about the life and achievements of Cornell graduate and Nobel Laureate, Barbara McClintock.

Ed Cobb points out distinguishing features of cacti and euphorbs in the LHB conservatory (photo Craig Cramer)









The post-graduate society of the Boyce Thompson Institute hosted the “Genetic Freaks” Workshop, demonstrating genetic recombination using plants and candy bugs.








Learn More:

CALS Plant Transformation Facility to lead CRISPR/Cas9 Workshop

The CALS Plant Transformation Facility will be leading a CRISPR/Cas9 workshop on May 5 1:00 – 5:00 pm in 224 Weill Hall.

Topics will include:

  • Background on CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing
  • Gene editing tools
  • Applications of gene editing
  • Transgenic and non-transgenic methods for gene editing in plants
  • In workshop design of guide RNAs, donor templates, and constructs for knockouts, allelic replacement, and multiplexing in both species with sequenced genomes and those without
  • Ways to test guide RNA effectiveness
  • Screening methods for validating edits

Participants should bring:

  • Sequence information for a target gene of interest for use during the design and validation elements
  •  Your own computer

To register:

Contact Matthew Willmann at   Attendance is limited to the first 30 registrants. $100/attendee.

Learn more:

Recent publications from the SIPS community – April 20, 2017

Managing Apple Crop Load and Diseases with Bloom Thinning Applications in an Organically Managed ‘Honeycrisp’/‘MM.111’ Orchard.

Peck, G.M., DeLong, C.N., Combs, L.D., and Yoder, K.S. 2017.  HortScience 52:377-381.

Seed dormancy, germination and fungal infestation of eastern gamagrass seed

Huang, W., Mayton, H.S., Amirkhani, M., Wang, D., and Taylor, A.G. 2017. Industrial Crops and Products 99:109-116.

Confirmation of Paracercospora egenula causing leaf spot of eggplant in Hawaii

Vaghefi, N., Pethybridge, S.J., Shivas, R.G., and Nelson, S.C. 2016.  Australasian Plant Disease Notes 11:35.

Phytochemical profiles and antioxidant activity of brown rice varieties

Gong, E.S., Luo, S.J., Li, T., Liu, C.M., Zhang, G.W., Chen, J., Zeng, Z.C., and Liu, R.H. 2017. Food Chemistry 227:432-443.

Glynos receives ‘Young Botanist’ award

by Craig Cramer
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.

Recent publications from the SIPS community – April 13, 2017

Microscale Investigations of Soil Heterogeneity: Impacts on Zinc Retention and Uptake in Zinc-Contaminated Soils.

Rosenfeld, C.E., Chaney, R.L., Tappero, R.V., and Martínez, C.E. 2017. Journal of Environmental Quality 46:373-383.

Microscale soil structures foster organic matter stabilization in permafrost soils.

Mueller, C.W., Hoeschen, C., Steffens, M., Buddenbaum, H., Hinkel, K., Bockheim, J.G., and Kao-Kniffin, J. 2017.  Geoderma 293:44-53.

Bioaccessibility of As and Pb in orchard and urban soils amended with phosphate, Fe oxide and organic matter.

Cai, M., McBride, M.B., Li, K., and Li, Z. 2017.  Chemosphere 173:153-159.

Genotypic characteristics in populations of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum from New York State, USA.

Dunn, A.R., Kikkert, J.R., and Pethybridge, S.J. 2017.  Annals of Applied Biology 170:219-228.

Meta-analytic modelling of the incidence–yield and incidence–sclerotial production relationships in soybean white mould epidemics.

Lehner, M.S., Pethybridge, S.J., Meyer, M.C., and Del Ponte, E.M. 2017.  Plant Pathology 66:460-468.

Population Structure and Phylogenetic Relationships in a Diverse Panel of Brassica rapa L.

Bird, K.A., An, H., Gazave, E., Gore, M.A., Pires, J.C., Robertson, L.D., and Labate, J.A. 2017.  Frontiers in Plant Science 8.

Risk Management Strategies using Precision Agriculture Technology to Manage Potato Late Blight.

Liu, Y., Langemeier, M.R., Small, I.M., Joseph, L., and Fry, W.E. 2017. Agronomy Journal 109:562-575.

Rapid transcriptional plasticity of duplicated gene clusters enables a clonally reproducing aphid to colonise diverse plant species.

Mathers, T.C., Chen, Y., Kaithakottil, G., Legeai, F., Mugford, S.T., Baa-Puyoulet, P., Bretaudeau, A., Clavijo, B., Colella, S., Collin, O., Dalmay, T., Derrien, T., Feng, H., Gabaldón, T., Jordan, A., Julca, I., Kettles, G.J., Kowitwanich, K., Lavenier, D., Lenzi, P., Lopez-Gomollon, S., Loska, D., Mapleson, D., Maumus, F., Moxon, S., Price, D.R.G., Sugio, A., van Munster, M., Uzest, M., Waite, D., Jander, G., Tagu, D., Wilson, A.C.C., van Oosterhout, C., Swarbreck, D., and Hogenhout, S.A. 2017.  Genome Biology 18:27.

Rapid electron transfer by the carbon matrix in natural pyrogenic carbon.

Sun, T., Levin, B.D.A., Guzman, J.J.L., Enders, A., Muller, D.A., Angenent, L.T., and Lehmann, J. 2017.  Nature Communications 8:14873.

Development of a buried bag technique to study biochars incorporated in a compost or composting medium.

Khan, N., Clark, I., Bolan, N., Meier, S., Saint, C.P., Sánchez-Monedero, M.A., Shea, S., Lehmann, J., and Qiu, R. 2017.  Journal of Soils and Sediments 17:656-664.

A comprehensive draft genome sequence for lupin (Lupinus angustifolius), an emerging health food: insights into plant–microbe interactions and legume evolution.

Hane, J.K., Ming, Y., Kamphuis, L.G., Nelson, M.N., Garg, G., Atkins, C.A., Bayer, P.E., Bravo, A., Bringans, S., Cannon, S., Edwards, D., Foley, R., Gao, L.-l., Harrison, M.J., Huang, W., Hurgobin, B., Li, S., Liu, C.-W., McGrath, A., Morahan, G., Murray, J., Weller, J., Jian, J., and Singh, K.B. 2017.  Plant Biotechnology Journal 15:318-330.

Demography of Invasive Black and Pale Swallow-Wort Populations in New York.

Milbrath, L.R., Davis, A.S., and Biazzo, J. 2017. Northeastern Naturalist 24:37-53.

Transcriptomic Analysis of Olea europaea L. Roots during the Verticillium dahliae Early Infection Process.

Jimenez-Ruiz, J., Leyva-Perez, M.D., Schiliro, E., Barroso, J.B., Bombarely, A., Mueller, L., Mercado-Blanco, J., and Luque, F. 2017.  Plant Genome-Us 10.

StMYB44 negatively regulates phosphate transport by suppressing expression of PHOSPHATE1 in potato.

Zhou, X., Zha, M., Huang, J., Li, L., Imran, M., and Zhang, C. 2017.  Journal of Experimental Botany 68:1265-1281.

How does the multifaceted plant hormone salicylic acid combat disease in plants and are similar mechanisms utilized in humans?

Dempsey, D.M.A., and Klessig, D.F. 2017.  BMC Biology 15:23.


Bill Brodie, nematologist with USDA-ARS and Plant Pathology, dies at 82

Excerpted from the online obituary at Bangs Funeral Home

Bill Burl Brodie, 82, of Ithaca, was born to George Elmer and Carmel Mae Brodie at home on April 25, 1934, in Alma, Arkansas, and passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 7, 2017, at the Hospicare Residence in Ithaca, NY.

Bill left home at the age of 16 to become the first of his family to attend college, earning his BS and MS at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK, and his PhD in Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, NC.

From there, he worked for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Lubbock, TX, then in Tifton, GA, before accepting a position working for the USDA-ARS with a courtesy appointment to Cornell University’s Plant Pathology Dept. in Ithaca, NY in 1969, where he worked until retiring in 2003. While working at Cornell, he met his best friend, Mary Hill, and married her on Nov 2, 1977.

During his long career with the USDA-ARS, Bill ran the Federal Golden Nematode Lab at Cornell University and the Golden Nematode Research Farm in Steuben County NY, making many advances in Integrated Pest Management of nematodes, and spent a sabbatical from Nov 1977-June 1978 in Lima, Peru, working at the International Potato Center. From 1987-1997, he served as Supervisory Plant Pathologist and Research Leader for USDA/ARS at the Federal Plant, Soil and Nutrition Lab in Ithaca, NY. Bill received the Empire State Potato Club Certificate of Merit (1987), USDA Certificate of Merit (1984), USDA/ARS Outstanding Scientist of the Year (1989), USDA Superior Service Award (1991), and a USDA Group Honor Award for Excellence (1995). In 1999, he was made an Honorary Life Member of The Potato Association of America. In 2017, the Cornell Plant Breeding Department named a potato variety “Brodie” in his honor. It is, of course, resistant to the Golden Nematode.

In addition to his career, Bill enjoyed gardening, antiquing, and watching his favorite team, the New York Yankees. He was a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church. He was a loving and wonderful husband, father, uncle, and grandfather. He was always encouraging, with many entertaining jokes and stories to tell and much wisdom to share. His many colorful sayings will be especially remembered.

Bill worked hard to make a good life for his family, from his modest beginnings in rural Arkansas, through his education and his career achievements. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by many.

April Update from SIPS Interim Director Chris Smart

Hello SIPS Community,

I had delayed sending out the April Interim Update, thinking I might have some news about a new director or new faculty. Sadly, that is not yet the case as you will read below. The candidate is still in negotiations with CALS. It is my understanding (as of this afternoon) that we will have an answer by the end of April. I will send a message out to the entire SIPS community as soon as I hear that a decision has been made.

Faculty – Save the date. We will have a SIPS-wide faculty meeting on May 12. We will meet in 404 Plant Science from 2:00 – 3:30.

Students and Staff – I am working to identify dates and locations to meet with graduate students and I will have a separate meeting with staff. I plan to have meetings on both the Ithaca and Geneva campuses. I will provide more details once they are available. It’s important for everyone to have the opportunity to ask questions about SIPS and provide feedback and ideas that will improve our school.

Other news:

Our four faculty searches are moving along nicely. I have included an update on each below;

  • Great News!! Gaurav Moghe has been hired as an Assistant Professor of Plant Metabolic Biochemistry (Plant Biology Section). We look forward to Gaurav joining SIPS later this year.
  • Assistant/Associate Professor of Specialty Crop Systems (Horticulture Section). An offer has been made to the top candidate and negotiations are ongoing. It appears that the candidate will come to SIPS, and we hope to be able to make an announcement soon.
  • Assistant/Associate Professor of Quantitative Genetics (Plant Breeding and Genetics Section). An offer has been made to the top candidate and negotiations are ongoing. It appears that the candidate will come to SIPS, and we hope to be able to make an announcement soon.
  • Assistant/Associate Professor of Plant Biodiversity/Phylodiversity. An offer has recently been made to the top candidate and negotiations are underway.

Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns, or good news,


Magdalen Lindeberg

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