September 28, 2010
Cornell University's Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics is the top of its kind in the nation, according to an extensive study released by the National Research Council (NRC) on Tuesday (Sep. 28).
The department's graduate program achieved the highest score based on surveys that polled plant sciences peers from 118 institutions.They rated it between 1 and 8 on 20 key variables. It received particularly high scores for the quality and productivity of its faculty, based on the frequency of their publications, citations and their ability to secure grants.
Its students were also recognized for their scholarship, with GRE scores that were among the top in the nation.
"Even though our department is quite small, Cornell Plant Breeding & Genetics has a global reputation for high quality research and instruction," said Mark Sorrells, the department Chair. “Currently we are thinking strategically as to how we will continue to expand and improve the quality of our programs to meet the growing demand for our graduates with a combination of skills and experience in both traditional breeding methods and the latest genomics and molecular technologies.”
Pennsylvania State and the University of California at Berkeley also received top rankings for their plant biology programs, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison ranked between 2 and 14 for its plant breeding and genetics program.
The Department of Food Science and Technology joined 11 other programs within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to place among the top 20 based on the surveys, and was one of seven to come within the top 5 range. University-wide, more than 75 percent of the 61 Cornell fields included in the study were in the top 20 range of rankings.
"I am proud that so many of our college’s graduate fields excelled," said Kathryn Boor, the new Ronald P. Lynch dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
"It is especially heartening to see us score so highly in the survey ratings, which reflect a recognition of our excellence among our peers. These results will help us continue to attract the best and brightest faculty to Ithaca and Geneva to conduct their research and teach our students," she added.
"This study confirms what most of us already know, which is that the quality of Cornell's graduate fields is outstanding," University Provost Kent Fuchs said. "In addition to highlighting Cornell's many strong fields of study, the survey and its program rankings provide another resource for ongoing efforts to assess and improve Ph.D programs."
The 2010 NRC study, based on data collected in 2006, compared 4,838 individual research doctoral programs in 62 fields across 212 surveyed institutions.