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Meet Breanne Kisselstein

Breanne Kisselstein, a third-year doctoral student studying plant pathology, studies disease genes that are associated with resistance to fungicides growers rely on to control diseases in commercial vineyards. Photo by Allison Usavage

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is training brilliant young minds to lead the next wave of breakthroughs in agricultural and food science. 

Breanne Kisselstein, a third-year doctoral student studying plant pathology, is gaining valuable knowledge at Cornell AgriTech as she studies powdery mildew, a disease which infects grapes around the world. Kisselstein is looking at disease genes that are associated with resistance to fungicides growers rely on to control diseases in commercial vineyards in the Finger Lakes.

We spoke with her about her experiences as a student on the Cornell AgriTech campus as well as what she hopes to accomplish through her research.

What are you most passionate about as a student?

Getting to work with commercial wineries has been one of my favorite experiences. I’m really lucky to get to talk to winery owners and help them with diseases affecting their grapes. They are excited about how science can help them and invested in the research I am doing.

How did you discover the program at Cornell AgriTech?

As an undergrad student at RIT, I was studying molecular biology with an interest in human disease. I came across the summer scholar program here and fell in love with plant pathology. My experience as a summer scholar changed the course of my career path. I never imagined I would be getting my PhD from Cornell.

What do you hope your research here will accomplish?

My hope is that my research will help others understand how fungicides are controlling or failing to control disease and ultimately help growers in the future use less fungicides and chemicals while having a better handle on disease control.

What inspires you about being a student?

The Geneva campus is tight knit and being a student here feels like being a part of a family. I wake up every morning excited to work with such a great group of people and perform important research. I have been so inspired here that my dream is to one day become a professor and inspire others to love science.  Science is for everyone!