Skip to main content

Discovery that Connects

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

July Update from SIPS Director Chris Smart

July SIPS Director Update

Dear SIPS Community,

New section chairs. Please join me in thanking Jeff Doyle (Plant Breeding & Genetics) and Klaas van Wijk (Plant Biology) for their service to SIPS, and join me in welcoming Mike Gore and Joss Rose as incoming section chairs for PBG and Plant Bio, respectively.

Congratulations to our undergraduate and graduate students!

Covid-19 update. Plans to reactivate campus for fall semester were released by President Pollack last week. Please do take the time to read the message as it contains lots of valuable information. Classes start September 2!

If you will be teaching in the fall and have questions or concerns about your course or online activities, SIPS has a committee (Carlyn Buckler, Tom Silva, Anna Levina, Magdalen Lindeberg, Craig Cramer) that can provide assistance with video/Canvas/ADA compliance and can also help find resources through CTI. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Renovation. 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. Please reach out to your section chairs and committee members for more info.

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: Candidate interviews are complete
  • Physiology of fruit crop adaptation to climate change: Candidate interviews in process
  • Breeding for Sustainable Forage Cropping Systems: Candidate interviews in process

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
  • Creativity and ideas: Alexis Pike, Craig Cramer, Tami Payne
  • Going Above & Beyond: Alexis Pike, Carlyn Buckler, Craig Cramer, Derek Parsons, Donna Loeb, Jennifer Starr, Magdalen Lindeberg, Mandy Kafka, Mike Colizzi, Sandra Wayman, Danielle Bushnell, Alicia Caswell, Tami Payne
  • Inspirational Leadership: Chase Crowell, Samantha Willden, Hale Tufan, Andy Vail, Jeff Doyle, Klaas van Wijk, Michele Blackmore, Chris Smart, Zoe Dubrow
  • Strong Team Spirit: Brian Flannigan, Michele, Blackmore, Sean Murphy, Tara Reed, Yosef Al Shoffe

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,


SIPS statement of support for international students

Dear SIPS community,

I hope you have all seen the letter from President Pollack detailing the strong support Cornell has for our international student community following the release of guidelines from the US Immigration and Customs  Enforcement (ICE) prohibiting international students from remaining on campus if classes are held exclusively online. SIPS leadership wholly supports the President’s position and we are happy to see that Cornell has signed on to litigation with other universities. SIPS leadership, faculty and staff are all aware of the new ICE guidelines, and we are also aware of the stress and anxiety caused by these guidelines coupled with a pandemic.

Because Cornell is planning hybrid instruction (both in person and remote), we have been told by university and college leadership that the new guidelines should not impact our students. SIPS leadership including the Executive Committee and our Directors of Graduate Studies are discussing the situation and have been in contact with CALS leadership and the Graduate School. It is critical to point out that prohibiting international students from remaining on campus (any campus) is wrong and goes against everything we believe in. SIPS has a global footprint and we are proud of the wisdom and research connections we gain from our international students, faculty, staff. Along with CU and CALS leadership, we express unqualified support for our international students.



SIPS TA policy guidelines for Fall 2020

The Fall 2020 semester at Cornell will be a hybrid of remote and in person learning. The health and safety of SIPS faculty, students, and staff is our paramount concern at this time. Consequently, the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) plans to allow students to choose to TA remotely if that is their preference. We have no intention of forcing students to TA in person. Below is the process that we are following to ensure that TAs have a clear and transparent understanding of the process.

  • Faculty who are teaching courses in the Fall 2020 semester have been contacted to determine if they would prefer to teach in person or remotely.
  • Each of the TAs for the Fall 2020 semester will be contacted by their GFA and asked if they would prefer to teach in person or remotely.
    1. No student will be forced to teach in person.
    2. There will be NO questions, coercion, request for medical documentation, or repercussions based on the student’s choice to teach in person or remotely.
    3. TA stipend will not be altered based on the student’s choice to teach in person or remotely.
    4. Students are welcome to register with Student Disability Services (SDS) but this is not a requirement in order to request remote teaching.
  • SIPS Section Chairs and Director will work with course instructors to enable TAs to work remotely if they so choose. We recognize that TA preference for remote instruction may lead to shifts in course design or a voluntary change in TA course allocation.
    1. Please note that the TA instruction mode preference does NOT have to match the faculty’s instruction mode preference for that course.
  • Notification:
    1. Remote courses: TAs for courses where instructors have decided to teach the course remotely will likely be notified of that choice by the end of July.
    2. In person courses: Owing to the university-wide challenge of scheduling instructional space that meets social distancing requirements, instructors requesting in person classes and the associated TAs will not receive confirmation until August. We are aware that several TAs have expressed a preference to teach in person, but this cannot be guaranteed.
  • Personal Protective Equipment: SIPS will provide necessary PPE for TAs and instructors including face masks, hand sanitizer, and workspace disinfectant.
Skip to toolbar