Science-based solutions for a changing world

Serving the public good is part of our mission as a pioneer in purpose-driven science. Our world-class research facilities spark discoveries, insights and tangible solutions that are being used across New York state and the planet.  

Explore how our faculty, staff and students are actively tackling some of the biggest questions, concerns and challenges facing plant science today.

colored plant cells in a microscopic image

Our researchers are making breakthroughs in understanding the important and fundamental processes at work in plants and their environments, the properties of soils and how plants interact with microbes.

women working in a greenhouse with rice plants

Global and national food security is one the greatest challenges we face. We are working to increase food production through breeding for enhanced food value, disease management and optimized cropping systems.

women working in a field

Our scientists are developing sustainable agro-ecosystems that improve soil health and optimize production of forage, fuel and fiber. Our focus areas include imaging technology for environmental analysis and resource management, digital agriculture and strategizing adaptation to climate change.

two men behind a bed of pink tulips

Our researchers enhance human health and well-being by improving plant nutrient content and culinary appeal and by enriching the human environment through plantings in public gardens and urban and developed settings.

baskets of different colored peppers

Our faculty conduct research on a wide variety of crop plants, ranging from global staples such as rice, small grains and potatoes, specialty crops like apples, grapes, cabbage and tomatoes, new areas of interest such as hemp and plants grown as ornamentals.

people sitting in chairs while with a man standing in the back

We serve growers engaged in many different agricultural systems, including organic production. Areas of focus include breeding for disease resistance, improving disease prediction and suppression and management using organic methods.

Sustainability is central to our mission

We're focused on sustainable production of food, fiber and fuel that maximizes productivity while minimizing environmental impact. Learn more about some of our many research areas directed at enhanced sustainability.

people standing in a cabbage field

Plant productivity

Using plant breeding and improved agricultural practices, we are finding ways for plants to growth and thrive in marginal environments and local regions outside their normal range.

Improved pathogen & weed management

Plant breeding, agriculttural practices and pathogen monitoring are leading to advances in plant health. Geospatial imaging and associated data analysis enables precision applications of chemical controls for pathogens and weeds.

Plant nutritional content

Through basic research into the genetic mechanisms of nutrient uptake and production, we are producing biofortified food crops that provide important micronutrients and vitamins as well as having increased sensory appeal.

Beneficial interactions with plant-associated microbes

Microbes associated with plants have the potential to enhance plant nutrition, promote growth and suppress disease. We investigate a range of bacterial and fungi involved in these processes.

Soil health

By monitoring soil nutrients, mitigating contaminants and communicating strategies for building healthy soils, we are finding ways to enhance and maintain soil health in New York and around the world.

Enhancing the urban environment

SIPS researchers are maximizing plant-based ecosystem services in urban and developed locations by optimizing planting strategies and balancing environmental compatibility and economic feasibility.

Plant-based biofuels

We are working to reduce our fossil fuel dependence by developing willow and a variety of herbaceous plant species for use as sustainably grown sources of energy.

Agriculture in the developing world

Cornell has a long tradition of enhancing agricultural sustainability in the developing world through improved variety development, cropping systems ecology and leadership in addressing emerging challenges to agriculture worldwide.

Plant diversity

SIPS faculty, principally associated with the Bailey Hortorium, focus on characterizing biodiversity of wild and cultivated plants through time, preservation of which is integral to maintaining sustainable ecosystems.

Communicating best practices

Many of our faculty and senior researchers have extension and outreach responsibilities. Through web-based extension resources and personal communication, best practices for food production, sustainable landscapes, organic agriculture and more are communicated to a variety of stakeholders.

Recent research highlights

Breakthroughs, news, and other stories from the School of Integrative Plant Science

A false color satellite image.

News

$1M NASA grant to improve carbon monitoring in East Africa
The East Africa study area – including Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – has experienced deforestation and also contains many large-scale land restoration and land-based climate mitigation programs, but lacks systems for quantifying...
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Soil and Crop Sciences Section
A cassava flower held by two fingers

News

A tropical root-crop that is a daily staple food to hundreds of millions of people in Africa and increasingly being used by small-holder farmers in commercial production, cassava has historically been difficult for plant breeders to improve in...
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
Basil leaves with orange between veins, symptomatic of basil downy mildew

Spotlight

Nothing spells disappointment more during pesto-making season than visiting your basil patch only to find your carefully tended crop ravaged. But that is exactly what happened to Meg McGrath, a plant pathologist based at Cornell’s Long Island...
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Horticulture Section
  • Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section
A group examines a harvest of pearl millet outside in a field

News

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement works with smallholder farmers and rural populations in West Africa to develop sustainable crop innovations that address climate change and other social challenges.
  • Department of Global Development
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
Man holds a fresh salmon.

News

Breeding Insight, a new program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through Cornell University, will share latest tools with breeders in the U.S.
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Biology Section
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

Land Acknowledgment

Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' (the Cayuga Nation). The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America.  We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫ' people, past and present, to these lands and waters.