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Denis Willet, assistant professor, Department of Entomology

Academic focus: Applied insect chemical ecology — understanding how organisms communicate chemically with their environment and using that knowledge to benefit agriculture.  

Previous positions: Data scientist, Goodyear; research entomologist, USDA-ARS

Academic background: B.S. and M.S., earth systems, Stanford University; Ph.D., entomology and nematology, University of Florida

Last book read: Certain to Win by Chet Richards

What do you do when not working? Enjoy life with family

What gets you out of bed in the morning? My two-year-old daughter, and communicating curiosity.  

Current research project? Volatile sensors for near real-time chemical communication monitoring.

Current outreach/extension projects? Designing technology using chemical ecology for producer use.  

What are three adjectives people might use to describe you? Persistent, curious, dynamic

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching? Applied statistics for chemical ecology and agricultural research.  

If you had unlimited grant funding, what major problem in your field would you want to solve? There are no problems - just opportunities. Grant funding is not a limitation on problem solving.  The unlimited grant funding should be invested in education and technology development.    

What most excites you about Cornell CALS and Cornell AgriTech? Opportunity to develop the future of agriculture.  This is an incredible environment for team creativity and technology development.

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News

Scientists identify new pathogen in NY apples
The study, “Identification and Characterization of Colletotrichum Species Causing Apple Bitter Rot in New York and Description of C. noveboracense sp. nov.,” was published July 6 in the journal Scientific Reports. “We were shocked by what we...
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Field Note

Hannah Swegarden: Using consumer research to develop better vegetables
Hannah Swegarden recently completed her Ph.D. under the direction of Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture at Cornell AgriTech. While working with Griffiths, Swegarden utilized an integrated approach to vegetable breeding geared...
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