Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
  • Environment
  • Plants

This is one of five vignettes showcasing faculty research related to redesigning 21st century agri-food systems.

As director and principal investigator of the new Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems, Susan McCouch, Ph.D. ’90, seeks to understand the signaling systems that plants use: If scientists can receive, translate and interpret a plant’s signals, they can better understand how to manage natural environments to allow plants to thrive, or potentially even feed signals back that could nudge plants to modify their behavior. 

The revolutionary idea could speed plant breeding, reduce fertilizer use and enable scientists to understand how to create more food more efficiently – a necessity to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries.  

“If the long-term goal is resilience and sustainable agricultural systems,” McCouch said, “we need to create plants that utilize scarce resources more efficiently.”


Keep Exploring

A sceientist examines something under a microscope.


Cornell scientists have replaced the harsh chemical processing of rare earth elements – used to power electric cars, wind turbines and smartphones – with a benign practice called biosorption.

  • Cornell Atkinson
  • Biological and Environmental Engineering
  • Environment
Gretchen Wittmeyer '24 posing, smiling in front of a Japanese Maple

Field Note

Gretchen Wittmeyer, Cornell CALS agricultural science major ‘24, recently served as a Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) intern, learning about CCE and conducting soil research. Read on to learn about Wittmeyer’s internship experience. What led...
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Agriculture Sciences Major
  • Animal Science