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.
  • Gary Bergstrom conducts research on disease of small grains, maize, and soybean focusing on factors that increase the risk and spread of disease, and the efficacy of different control methods for fungal diseases (Bergstrom news)
  • 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 
  • Keith Perry, Director of the New York State Foundation Seed Potato Program, has developed macroarrays for virus detection in potato and grapevine, facilitating the screening of plant material for large numbers of pathogens and having applications in quarantine and clean seed programs
  • 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
  • Thomas Björkman is involved in development of commercial broccoli varieties from existing germplasm that are capable of thriving in growing conditions of northeastern states, thereby minimizing the flavor-killing lag between harvest and consumption that occurs when broccoli is imported from more temperate regions (Björkman news)
  • 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.
  • Susan McCouch conducts genetic analysis of rice and identification of genes and quantitative trait loci in wild and exotic species that enhance productivity of modern rice cultivars (McCouch news)
  • Bruce Reisch specializes in development of new grape varieties with the aid of marker-assisted breeding technology. Wine quality, disease resistance, and cold tolerance are among the traits of greatest interest. (Reisch news)
  • 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"
  • Ronnie Coffman, Cornell’s Director of International Programs, is engaged in developing world agriculture on several fronts including the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project and the NextGen Cassava Project
  • Sarah Davidson Evanega, Director of Alliance for Science, is focuses on leadership development and promotion of scientific innovation in developing countries in addition to advancing the role of women in agriculture

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 - Sarah Davidson Evanega - Kandukuri Raman - Hale Ann Tufan - Maricelis Acevedo - Jean-Luc Jannink