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.
My 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. My corn breeding research objectives include: (1) gaining an understanding of the genetics of and genetic variability for improved performance under marginal conditions, (2) developing better selection methods for improving performance under such conditions, (3) exploring sources of novel genes to improve key productivity and sustainability traits, and (4) developing and releasing germplasm sources of use in New York, nationally, and internationally.
Outreach and Extension Focus
As Extension Leader for Plant Breeding and Genetics, I aim to make our extension program as strong as it can be in support of our mission, guided by the following specific goals:
(1) Help NY farmers and gardeners improve variety choices and seed quality.
a. Grow and provide Foundation seed and help seed growers produce Certified seed of superior crop varieties for NY.
b. Share results of variety testing on NY farms and experiment stations to help seed companies determine which varieties to market, seed growers decide which varieties to produce, and farmers select top varieties for their farms.
c. Provide decision-making information to help farmers make wise seed choices.
d. Gain feedback for breeders based on seed growers' and farmers' experiences with new crop varieties.
e. Conduct commercial field corn variety trials to assess grain yield potential and adaptation to NY growing environments, and provide this information to growers and seedsmen.
(2) Improve public understanding of plant breeding, crop varieties, and genetic engineering and increase awareness of the benefits that have been derived from genetic improvement of plants.
a. Provide educational programs and written resources on plant breeding and genetic engineering.
b. Develop a plan and resource materials for education about gene deployment across the landscape.
My focus is on applied plant breeding, selection, variety testing, and seed issues. I also teach about genetically engineered crop plants (basic public issues education) and agriculture in the developing world.
Awards and Honors
- Outstanding Faculty Award (2015) College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Association
- Brenac, P., Horbowicz, M., Smith Einarson, M. E., & Obendorf, R. L. (2013). Raffinose and stachyose accumulate in hypocotyls during drying of common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench) seedlings. Crop Science. 53:1615-1625.