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Susan Brown

Susan Brown

Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Science

120 Hedrick Hall
(315) 787-2224

The apple breeding program at Cornell is one of the largest fruit breeding programs in the world. My 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.

Research Focus

We use traditional breeding to develop new apple varieties, furthering our knowledge of the genetics of key traits in apples and identifying molecular markers for important characteristics for use in marker-assisted breeding (MAB). We identify outstanding advanced selections for potential variety release, and evaluate populations to study the inheritance of plant form, antioxidants, quality attributes and other characters. Interspecific hybrid populations are providing valuable material to study methylation of genes, as well as offering vast phenotypic diversity for genetic studies.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Emphasis is on producing superior advanced apple selections for commercialization, including novel uses and ornamental types. Growers are updated on the status of the breeding program and issues in intellectual property rights, and are given the opportunity to sample advanced selections at a variety showcase. Trees of advanced selections have been established in grower orchards throughout the state to test their adaptation and potential. This is done in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension. Trials are also being established in other regions of the US and internationally.

Teaching Focus

Apple breeding and genetic improvement. Integration of genomic tools in the breeding of clonal fruit tree crops such as apple.

Awards and Honors

  • Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences (2020) CALS
  • Goichman Family Directorship of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (2017) CALS/Cornell
  • Wilder Medal for Outstanding service to Horticulture (2016) American Pomological Society
  • New York State Senate Women of Distinction (2014) New York State Senate
  • SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Faculty Service (2013) The State University of New York

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • Cornell Apple breeding and the Benefits of Rutgers University Training. Rutgers Plant science seminars. November 2018. Rutgers University. New Brunswick, NJ.
  • Cornell Apple Breeding and Variety Testing. Great Lakes Fruit Workers Meeting. November 2018. Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
  • Apples: Harnessing Diversity for Genetic Improvement. National Association of Plant Breeding. August 2018. Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
  • Apple Genetic Improvement: Challenges but so many Opportunities. Michigan State Plant Sciences Seminar series. April 2018. Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI.
  • New Apple Varieties on the Horizon. November 2017. Ct Pomological Society.. Middletown, CT.
  • Breeding for Climate Change: Complexity and Challenges. September 2017. University of Rochester. Rochester, NY.
  • Fueling the Future: The Intellectual Capital of Geneva. Geneva Discovery Days. February 2017. The Boys and Girls Club of Geneva. Geneva, NY.
  • Apple research at Cornell. Great Lakes Plant Breeding Initiative (GLPBI). July 2013. Cornell. NYSAES.
  • Apple breeding and genetics. Docents of Rochester Museum and Science Center. May 2013. Cornell. NYSAES Geneva NY.
  • Apple breeding and genetics: Recent advances. Boyce Thompson Institue's Postgraduate Society Seminar Series. April 2013. Boyce Thompson Institute. Ithaca, NY.