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Meet our faculty: Lynn M. Sosnoskie

Lynn M. Sosnoskie, joined the Horticulture section of the School of Integrative Plant Science in 2019 as an assistant professor of weed ecology and management for speciality crop systems. Photo by Allison Usavage

Lynn M. Sosnoskie, assistant professor of weed ecology and management for specialty crop systems, School of Integrative Plant Science - Horticulture section

Academic focus: Weed biology, ecology and management in specialty crop systems

Previous positions: Agronomy and Weed Science Advisor, Merced and Madera Counties, University of California – ANR, 2018-2019; Assistant Research Faculty, Department of Crop and Soil Science, Washington State University, 2017-2018; Associate Project Scientist, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California – Davis, 2012-2017; Research Professional, Crop and Soil Sciences, University of Georgia, 2006-2011; Research Associate, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin, 2005-2006.

Academic background: Ph.D., Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio State University, 2000-2005; M.S., Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, 1997-2000; B.S., Department of Biology, Lebanon valley College, 1990-1994.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? My husband and I like to travel, backpack and hike. We have been lucky enough to see most of North America, parts of Europe, Africa and South America together. Our most amazing trip was a three-week tour in a rented car around southern Argentina and Chile while visiting national parks in Patagonia. I like to run. I’ve been injured for a few years but am working myself back up to a four-hour marathon. I have become very interested in photography, which is a good hobby for travelers to take up, and I’ve started making jewelry in my spare time.

Current outreach/extension projects: I just recently joined Cornell, so I’m still working on identifying the weed science related needs of specialty crop growers in New York. That being said, I will be continuing some research that I started in California to describe root development in perennial weeds and describe when the seedlings of these species can survive different types of control measures. I have been asked to speak at a number of grower meetings this winter, so I’ll be getting the word out about my program and meeting with growers and allied industry to discuss future research projects. My goal for this coming summer is to develop a herbicide injury photo gallery to help farmers identify chemical injury on their crops and distinguish those symptoms from biotic and other abiotic damage. I’m also have an active extension presence on both Twitter (@vegfruitweedsci) and Instagram (@specialtycropweedscience). 

What are three adjectives people might use to describe you? Hmmmm…kind, tenacious, thorough. And hopefully funny, I try to make people laugh.

What brought you to Cornell CALS? Quite a few reasons. First…it’s Cornell! Currently the number one agriculture school in the nation! But seriously, the prospect of following in the footsteps of Dr. Robin Bellinder and studying the biology, ecology and management of weeds in specialty crops. It is an honor to be able to continue her legacy. Also, the potential to collaborate with a host of world-class scientists cannot be ignored. Additionally, I’m from central Pennsylvania, and this was an opportunity to serve the region where I grew up and which helped shape me as a person.

What do you think is important for people to understand about your field? Weed science is about more than just spraying herbicides! Herbicides are an important tool for growers, we can’t deny that, but weed management really requires us to understand how weeds grow in and interact with their environments. There are lots of forces (climate, crop production practices, inter- and intra-specific competition, predation, etc…) acting on weed populations, and we need to describe how these pressures select for ‘winners and losers’ and how we can best design systems conducive to weed suppression.

If you had unlimited grant funding, what major problem in your field would you want to solve? I definitely want to study how climate change and resulting variable weather patterns will impact weeds and weed control. What species will become dominant? How will weed control performance vary in response to a changing environment? Whatever else I do, this always has to be in my mind—how will what I know and what I recommend today hold up in the future? Weed science is always moving forward, always changing, but what environmental curveballs are going to be thrown at us? How will we need to adapt? Because, I promise you this, the weeds are already adapting.

What was your most valuable research experience when you were a student? My first interaction with my Ph.D. advisor, Dr. John Cardina, at Ohio State. I kept referring to him as ‘Dr. Cardina,’ and he stopped me and said ‘Lynn, you need to call me John. We are going to be colleagues, and I want us to treat each other as such.’ Maybe this type of interaction doesn’t work for all mentors and mentees, but it really made me feel like I was a weed scientist who belonged in his lab and in the weed science society at large.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about Cornell so far? The community at Cornell has gone above and beyond to help me get settled in Geneva on a personal and professional level. Before I even got here, colleagues were letting me know about houses that had come on the market or telling me about the veterinarians they prefer or identifying the best places to get this or that item. Almost every single person has told me that they are so happy to have me here—I didn’t just move into an office or a lab space, I joined a community.

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