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Message from the Director

NYSAES Director Susan Brown

Research and extension at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station —Cornell’s Geneva campus — is addressing challenges and opportunities in specialty crops. We are an integral part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and our faculty have academic homes in the departments of Entomology and Food Science and in the sections of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology (PPPMB) and Horticulture in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS).  Our primary focus on fruits and vegetables is complemented by research and extension on additional key plants, including turfgrass, biofuel willow and hops. From investigating and mitigating new diseases and insects, to developing new varieties, or perfecting a food or beverage formulation, Cornell scientists at Geneva have enthusiasm and passion for projects that benefit growers and consumers alike.

Our goal is to produce better food, from almost every aspect imaginable—new varieties with better nutritional quality, better eating quality and resistance to diseases as well as better products from the raw ingredients.  Our scientists also work to develop growing systems that maximize quality in the field, orchard and vineyard;  sharing these techniques with growers produces a superior product for consumers to enjoy.  Several of our programs work directly with growers and entrepreneurs and to troubleshoot their individual problems. The Food Venture Center helps entrepreneurs develop safe new products, the New York State Wine Analytical Laboratory aids producers in solving problems, and our Good Agricultural Practices Program (GAPS) teaches producers to meet and exceed food safety standards for handling produce.  Growers, producers, entrepreneurs, established businesses and consumers benefit directly from our expertise.

Our researchers in crop protection are at the forefront of monitoring and controlling the new wave of invasive diseases and insects affecting both growers and home gardeners. Among other research projects, we have a dedicated farm for study of Phytopthora blight, a pathogen that effects tomatoes and potatoes. This facility, perhaps the only one of its kind in the United States, provides plant pathologists researching the disease with a site to effectively screen potential new, resistant varieties and opportunities for  discovery-based studies to develop new methods of controlling this widespread problem.

We take pride in partnering with the local community. Our faculty work in close cooperation with USDA-Agricultural Research Service scientists based in Geneva and the Finger Lakes Community College program in Viticulture & Wine TechnologyHobart William Smith students regularly join our labs for summer internships.  We are also active in the schools, with the “sow the seeds program” at the elementary school, and we hire many high school and returning college students to work in our research laboratories, greenhouses and field plots. The summer scholars program at NYSAES brings undergraduates from across the United States to Geneva for an 8-week, intensive program that is helping spark the next generation of agricultural scientists.  The staff, graduate students, visiting scientists and postdoctoral fellows at the Station add to our community’s vibrancy.

Past notables from our first century include the invention of the gene gun by John Sanford and colleagues, the development of over 280 varieties of fruits and vegetable suited to local and regional growing conditions, insect pheromone research by Wendell Roeloffs which resulted in his National Medal of Science in 1983, and the ‘Rainbow’ papaya resistant to papaya ring spot virus by Dennis Gonsalves.  Pioneering work by viticulturist Nelson Shaulis and many others laid the groundwork that helped our state become Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 2014 Wine Region of the Year.

Research and outreach at NYSAES will continue to be at the forefront of what is needed to address problems and to develop solutions.  Scientific inquiry, creativity and persistence will further the discoveries of the past and offer new benefits to all.  Precision agriculture, the use of remote sensing, and genetics and genomics research are just some examples of advances we will pursue.  New discoveries will drive innovation.  New businesses, new products, new research findings and their extension to the industry and to the public will benefit not only New York State producers, but also consumers. Please visit us to learn about all our research to improve fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops. 

Susan Brown
The Goichman Family Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station
and the Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences