174 Roberts Hall
I lead the Cornell Forage Breeding Project to conduct genetic research and develop cool season, perennial forage cultivars with higher yield, multiple disease and insect resistances, and forage quality. My project also conducts research on use of perennial grasses and legumes as feedstocks for the biofuel industry. I teach plant breeding and quantitative genetics; and my project provides extension and outreach information to seed companies, other breeders, extension educators, and producers. As associate dean and director of academic programs, I also provide oversight to the improvement of academic programs in the college.
My research/extension objectives are to breed improved forage cultivars (primarily alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil) for Northeast USA and promote their use by growers and seed companies. Although private breeding companies now provide most of the alfalfa cultivars in the USA, none of them focuses on traits specifically needed in the Northeast. Because there are few forage breeders in North America, a large proportion of my research is cooperative, facilitated through the NE1010 Multistate Cooperative Research Project. This project includes research to improve forage species, compare breeding methods, evaluate new cultivars of several forage species for yield, and conduct QTL analyses. I am cooperating with other scientists in NE1010 to identify QTLs for forage yield and other agronomic traits. In 2005, I joined the Cornell biofuels research group. My project is leading efforts to evaluate perennial, herbaceous plant species and breed them for use as feedstocks for biofuels.
The Forage Breeding Project interacts primarily with the seed industry, extension educators, growers, and biofuel companies to provide information on new forage cultivars and traits that we are working with to improve forage species. Extension activities include field demonstrations and presentations, fact sheets, web sites, posters, Power Point files, etc. This interaction promotes the use of improved cultivars, which provide more economical production of feed for the dairy and other livestock industries. More than 400,000 pounds of seed of Cornell cultivars are sold annually to growers. This number translates to about to 25-30,000 acres planted. Since these fields last at least four years, a conservative estimate of total acreage of Cornell forage cultivars is more than 100,000 acres. Web sites, fact sheets, extension talks, and field tours also are mechanisms to disseminate information about feedstocks for biofuel uses. Interaction with the groups mentioned above also provides feedback that helps guide our research objectives.
My professional objectives include preparing students for plant science careers through my advising and teaching. My quantitative genetics course is structured for students to learn practical methods of quantitative genetic experimentation and to understand how plant breeders can maximize progress from selection for quantitative traits. Administratively, I enjoy facilitating the creation and implementation of academic programs and policies in CALS and across the University. I also enjoy organizing faculty development workshops in teaching. I teach PLBR 7170, Quantitative Genetics in Plant Breeding, in alternate years. I annually teach four class periods of PLBR 4030, Genetic Improvement of Crop Plants, and one afternoon field lab on forage breeding in PLBR 4060, Methods of Plant Breeding Laboratory.