Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section
I have a broad interest in using science to develop sustainable societies that provide for all people while preserving natural resources and biosphere integrity for future generations. Achieving this goal requires an understanding of the fundamental nature of managed ecosystems and the mechanisms that govern human-environmental interactions. The prospect of developing food production systems that enhance ecological processes while contributing to sustainability is a key idea guiding all facets of my work.
My research group conducts studies of soil nutrient cycling processes in agroecosystems at scales ranging from the rhizosphere to farm and watershed scales. We investigate mechanisms within the plant-soil-microbial continuum that control ecosystem processes such as energy flows and nutrient cycling. Current research projects are focused on achieving a better understanding of the biotic and abiotic mechanisms regulating linkages between carbon and nitrogen cycles, with particular emphasis on the following processes: 1) symbiotic biological N-fixation, 2) decomposition and mineralization and 3) microbially-mediated N transformations such as nitrification, denitrification. Our work is also geared toward the development of management practices that improve soil quality while optimizing carbon and nitrogen cycling in intensive horticultural systems. Most of our research involves some degree of interdisciplinary collaboration. We are currently working with colleagues from molecular microbial ecology, resource economics, environmental sociology, biogeochemical modeling and weed ecology.
Selected Journal Publications
- Emmett, B. E., Buckley, D. H., Smith, M. E., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2018). Eighty years of maize breeding alters plant nitrogen acquisition but not rhizosphere bacterial community composition. Plant and Soil. 431:53-69.
- Han, Z., Walter, M. T., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2017). N2O emissions from grain cropping systems: a meta-analysis of the impacts of fertilizer-based and ecologically-based nutrient management strategies. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems. 107:335-355.
- Vanek, S. J., Jones, A. D., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2016). Coupling of soil regeneration, food security, and nutrition outcomes in Andean subsistence agroecosystems. Food Security: the science, sociology and economics of food production and access to food. 8: 727–742.
- Berthrong, S. T., Buckley, D. H., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2013). Agricultural management and labile carbon additions affect soil microbial community structure and interact with carbon and nitrogen cycling. Microbial Ecology. 66:158-170.
- Vitousek, P. M., Naylor, R., Crews, T., David, M. B., Drinkwater, L. E., Holland, E., Johnes, P., Katzenberger , J., Martinelli, L. A., Matson, P., Nziguheba, G., Ojima, D., Palm, C. A., Robertson, G. P., Sanchez, P., Townsend, A., & Zhang, F. (2009). Nutrient Imbalances in Agricultural Development. Science. 324:1519-1520.
- Gardner, J. B., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2009). The fate of nitrogen in grain cropping systems: a meta-analysis of N-15 field experiments. Ecological Applications. 19:2167-2184.
- Drinkwater, L. E., & Snapp, S. S. (2007). Nutrients in agriculture: Rethinking the management paradigm. Advances in Agronomy. 92:163-186.
- Tonitto, C., David, M., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2006). Response of crop yields and soil N to diversified rotations: A meta-analysis. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. 112:58-72.
- Puget, P., & Drinkwater, L. E. (2001). Short-term dynamics of root and shoot-derived carbon from a leguminous green manure. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 65:771-779.
- Drinkwater, L. E., Wagoner, M. W., & Sarrantonio, M. (1998). Legume-based systems have reduced losses of nitrogen and carbon. Nature. 396:262-265.
Awards & Honors
- Lifetime Achievement Award in Organic Agriculture 2018 Agronomy Society of America
- Fulbright Scholar (2017) Kenya and Malawi
- Frosty Hill Fellowship (2015) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- Alianza de Mujeres en Agroecología-Alliance of Women in Agroecology (2013) Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology, Annual Conference
- Celebrating Women in Science and Engineering (2011) Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute, University of Wisconsin
The graduate and undergraduate courses I teach integrate ecological and agricultural knowledge. My over-arching goal in teaching and mentoring students is to contribute to the development of scientists who will be equipped to address the global challenges we face in agriculture and environmental management. In my classes we engage in participatory, independent and collaborative learning and work to improve key life skills including critical and synthetic thinking, verbal and written communication. Graduate seminars that I have offered include 1) Decomposition, 2) Sustainability: Ethical, socioeconomic and biophysical dimensions, 3) Agroecosystems: Research and design.
- PLHRT/ENTOM 4730: Ecology of Agricultural Systems
- PLHRT 6970: Individual Study in Horticulture
- PLHRT 8900: Thesis Research, Master of Science
620 Bradfield Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
led24 [at] cornell.edu
- Full publication list at Google Scholar
- Video: Laurie Drinkwater On Applying Ecological Principles
- Legume biology and management
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- Soil and Crop Sciences
University of California, Davis
- Bachelor of Arts
University of South Florida
Laurie in the news
Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are engaging in sustainable and equitable agricultural development through an innovative curriculum that puts them front and center.
Three projects aimed at bolstering the success of organic farmers and those pursuing a transition to organic production are receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture.