The apple breeding program at Cornell is one of the largest fruit breeding programs in the world. Susan Brown's objectives include the development of new superior varieties for the apple industry with unique flavors, exceptional crispness, enhanced storage and shelf life, and the incorporation of resistance to disease and insect pests, and training students in the science of fruit breeding and genetics.
Ronnie Coffman serves as International Professor of Plant Breeding and Director of International Programs of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. Coffman's work has been important to the development of improved rice varieties grown on several million hectares throughout the world. He has collaborated extensively with institutions in the developing world and has served as a board member for several international institutes.
Walter De Jong's research centers around the genetic improvement of potato, both by conventional and molecular genetic means. Our breeding program aims to develop new chipping and tablestock varieties that are adapted to the Northeast and meet ever-changing needs of the regional potato industry.
Chair, Plant Breeding and Genetics Section
Jeff Doyle's work focuses on polyploidy (whole genome duplication), addressing questions of evolutionary pattern and process, gene expression, and genome evolution associated with this important phenomenon. Study systems have included a wide range of plant species, many of them cultivated or weedy, but most work in the lab has centered on the large and economically important legume family (“beans”). Legume projects have involved alfalfa and mungbean, but most work has focused on the wild perennial relatives of soybean (Glycine subgenus Glycine), including the development of a recently formed allopolyploid complex as a model for studying genome merger and duplication. Legume phylogeny and the origin and evolution of symbiotic nitrogen fixation (nodulation) has been an additional interest of the lab.
Michael Gore's expertise is in the field of quantitative genetics and genomics, especially the genetic dissection of metabolic seed traits related to nutritional quality. He also contributes to the development and application of field-based, high-throughput phenotyping tools for plant breeding and genetics research. He teaches two short courses at the Tucson Winter Plant Breeding Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and serves on the editorial boards of Crop Science and Theoretical and Applied Genetics.
The vegetable improvement program at Geneva focuses on the breeding and genetics of common bean, crucifer and tomato crops. The goals include the introgression of host plant resistance to economically important pests, tolerance to environmental stresses and the selection of niche-market crops and traits.
Julie Hansen conducts research in applied plant breeding on forage and biofuel crops. Research involves variety development, evaluation, and collaborations with other institutions. Grant funded projects include integrated pest management and accelerated evaluation of perennial grasses and legumes for biofuel production in New York State.
The overall theme of Michael Mazourek's program is innovation of vegetables for adaptation for production in the Northeastern US and to be of improved quality and nutrition for consumers. He conducts much of this selection in Organic systems that represenst a more natural environment. By working in a natural environment, he is better able to draw parallels between the artificial selection that takes place in plant breeding with the natural selection that has taken place during the evolution of crop progenitors.
Susan McCouch's research focuses on rice and includes publication of the first molecular map of the rice genome in 1988, early QTL studies on disease resistance, drought tolerance, maturity and yield, cloning of genes underlying domestication traits, and demonstrating that low-yielding wild and exotic Oryza species harbor genes that can enhance the performance of modern, high-yielding cultivars. Recently, she has used genome wide association studies (GWAS) to demonstrate that the different subpopulations of O. sativa have significantly different genetic architecture.
Martha Mutschler-Chu is a vegetable breeder / geneticist working on tomato and long-day onion. Her areas of interest concern the genetic control of novel traits derived from wild species, the genetic control/physiological mechanisms underlying these novel traits and their use in vegetable improvement.
Rebecca Nelson's interests and objectives pertain to plant pathology, plant breeding and international agriculture. Her own research program is focused on understanding the ways in which plants defend themselves against pathogen attack.
Wojtek Pawlowski's research group studies meiotic recombination using genetics, biochemistry and several advanced microscopy methods, such as restorative deconvolution, multiphoton excitation, and structured illumination microscopy.
K. V. Ramen's experience includes working in the area of International Agriculture and Rural Development. In addition to being the course coordinator for IARD 402 and 602, he is also involved in implementing several special projects in the area of agricultural biotechnology, capacity building, curriculum development and agri-business in many developing nations.
Bruce Reisch specializes in the development of new wine and table grape varieties, as well as new grape breeding techniques. Since joining the Cornell faculty in 1980, his program has released eleven new grape varieties - eight wine grapes (cooperatively with the Dept. of Food Science and Technology) and three seedless table grapes. The grape breeding program continues to emphasize wine variety development with a strong emphasis on combining wine quality with disease resistance and cold tolerance.
Kelly Robbins is a quantitative geneticist whose research focuses on the use of computational science to improve the efficiency of crop breeding programs. Current projects are aimed at developing computational infrastructure and models for applying high throughput technologies, such as Next Generation Sequencing and remote sensing, to genetic improvement of complex traits, increasing understanding of genotype by environmental interactions, and improving genetic gains in crop breeding programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia
Tim Setter currently collaborates with researchers at CIMMYT, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, on studies of drought tolerance of maize, and collaborates on cassava research with colleagues at national institutes in Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda, and at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).
Frank Shotkoski has 20 years of academic and industrial experience in both agriculture and medical biotechnology. He is currently the Director of the Agriculture Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII), a USAID/Cornell University cooperative effort with a mandate to introduce agriculture biotechnology to developing countries.
The research in Lawrence Smart's lab is focused on breeding, genetics, genomics, and physiology of shrub willow bioenergy crops. Shrub willow (Salix spp.) produce high yields of woody biomass when grown as a dedicated short-rotation crop on marginal or underutilized land. Willow stems are harvested every three years and the plants resprout after each cutback, making willow fields productive for more than 20 years.
Margaret E. Smith joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1987 in the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, focusing on corn breeding. Her research goal is to enhance our understanding of corn adaptation to marginal environments and develop genetic materials that will improve corn productivity and sustainability in such environments.
The Cornell Small Grains Project has a history of over 100 years of developing innovative approaches to crop improvement. Our research program utilizes appropriate technologies encompassing molecular genetics, physiology, pathology, and breeding to research strategies that contribute to the development of superior crop varieties.
Donald Viands leads 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. His project also conducts research on use of perennial grasses and legumes as feedstocks for the biofuel industry.