Food Security

Researchers in the School of Integrative Plant Science are advancing food security through development of improved cropping systems, management of interactions with weeds and pathogens, and enhancing food value through breeding innovation

  • Greg Peck researches strategies for increasing the production of value-added fruit-based products such as hard cider using sustainable management practices (Peck news)
  • Steve Reiners focuses on cultural practices and variety selection for the processing vegetable industry, with particular interest in using cover crops to maximize nutrient cycling and reducing disease incidence
  • Terence Robinson is dedicated to improving fruit production through identification of rootstocks most suitable for New York growers and development of orchard management practices that improve fruit size and quality (Robinson news)
  • Justine Vanden Heuvel researches how light and temperature influence flavor and aroma in wine grapes and how these environmental variables can be optimized to improve fruit quality (Vanden Heuvel news)
  • Marvin Pritts focuses on berry production and how cultivation practices such as environment management with high and low tunnels can enhance growth in colder climates
  • Chris Watkins, in addition to his responsibilities as Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, researches management strategies for extending post-harvest storage of apples.
  • Anu Rangarajan, Director of the Cornell Small Farms Program, researches sustainability of vegetable production with a focus on reduced tillage systems in both organic and conventional production (SEA) (Rangarajan news)
  • Neil Mattson investigates how different environmental variables affect the growth of greenhouse crops and how variables such as lighting and greenhouse infrastructure can optimize indoor crop production (Mattson news)

Learn more about the Cornell Initiative for Digital Agriculture (CIDA), an initiative which involves multiple SIPS faculty

  • Michael Gore's research includes a major project focuses on development and application of field-based, high-throughput phenotyping tools for plant breeding and genetics research, and, in collaboration with Rebecca Nelson, image analysis for diagnosis of Northern corn leaf blight (Gore news)
  • Ying Sun uses remote sensing of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and land surface modeling to quantify photosynthesis and its response to changing climate/stress.
  • Yu Jiang’s research is focused on system engineering and data analytics for specialty crops and involves interdisciplinary innovation among engineering, computer science, and plant science
  • Katie Gold's Grape Sensing, Pathology, and Extension Lab at Cornell (GrapeSPEC) studies the fundamental and applied science of plant disease sensing with hyperspectral imagery to improve grape disease management.
  • Sarah Pethybridge has generated image analysis tools such as Leaf Doctor and Estimate for diagnosis of fungal diseases, as part of their work on the epidemiology and control of diseases of processing vegetables (Pethybridge news)
  • Terry Bates collects and integrates data from soil, canopy, and crop sensors to understand spatial relationships and improve management of Concord vineyards (SRA)
  • Susan Hoskins, RS Program Leader at IRIS, is focused on collecting and summarizing information on the type and location of land use and land cover, as well as on other renewable and non-renewable resources
  • Toni DiTommaso’s and Matt Ryan’s research focuses on understanding how different environments influence weed species and how soil properties and biological agents, and cultivation practices can be used in weed control
  • Lynn Sosnoskie investigate tools and technologies for controlling unwanted vegetation including identifying new herbicide active ingredients for use in specialty crops and non-chemical strategies for weed suppression such as cover crops, mulches and vision-guided and electric weeders.
  • Kerik Cox investigates fungal pathogens of fruit crops such as apples, stone fruit, and bush berries, and how different management practices alter the pathogen life cycle 
  • Margaret McGrath is focused on management of vegetable crop diseases grown on Long Island using both conventional and organic production
  • Chris Smart’s research involves detection and management of fungal, oomycete and bacterial diseases of vegetables. Smart collaborates with the Mazourek program on selection of disease resistant lines.
  • Alan Taylor is focused on seed biology and development of seed treatments that protect against insect pests and pathogens
  • Susan Brown studies apple genetics and uses marker assisted breeding and transgene technology to develop new apple varieties including the recently released SnapDragon and RubyFrost.
  • Walter De Jong works on genetic improvement of potato by conventional and molecular genetic means as well as identification of genes that control tuber color and shape. (De Jong news)
  • Phillip Griffiths is focused on genetic improvement of snap bean and brassica crops, with particular focus on traits conferring resistance to plant diseases.
  • Margaret Smith focuses on genetic improvement of maize with an emphasis on traits that enhance performance in marginal environments
  • Mark Sorrells is engaged in genomic analysis of small grains and the mapping and characterization of candidate genes associated with stem rust resistance, nutritional quality and other kernel properties (Sorrells news)
  • Kelly Robbins conducts advanced modeling and computational analyses for improving the efficiency of breeding programs and increasing understanding of complex traits
  • Ed Buckler’s research group uses genomics and statistical genetics to understand and dissect complex traits in maize and other crops, and develops software for relating genotype to phenotype
  • Jean-Luc Jannink’s primary focus is on developing statistical methods to use DNA markers in public sector small grains breeding
  • Michael Gore's research group engages in genetic dissection of metabolic seed traits related to nutritional quality and contribute to the development and application of field-based, high-throughput phenotyping tools for plant breeding and genetics research

SIPS researchers with interests in plant breeding and environmental conservation have a long history of involvement in international research, with collaborations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America and with a wide range of organizations. Selected international activities, not included under other focus areas, are described here. Read more about CALS Global Development

  • Andrew McDonald comes to SIPS from CIMMYT in Nepal and brings extensive experience in the global area to his position in international cropping systems
  • Rebecca Nelson's research program investigates natural genetic diversity for quantitative disease resistance in maize and explores the potential for enhancing plant nutrition through use of waste products in a "circular economy"

Faculty and senior researchers with involvement in International Agriculture: Ronnie Coffman - Susan McCouchTim Setter - Johannes Lehmann - Rebecca NelsonMarvin PrittsKelly Robbins - Janice Thies - Harold van Es - Jian Hua - Phillip Griffiths - Michael GoreMark Sorrells - Andrew McDonald - Dawit Solomon - Kandukuri Raman - Hale Ann Tufan - Maricelis Acevedo - Jean-Luc Jannink