More than half of the world's population depends on rice as their staple food, and the U.S. is the world's fourth largest exporter of this essential commodity. Rice production must increase dramatically and in a sustainable manner to meet the demands of the 21st century. Population pressure, natural resource limitations, changing climate and globalized markets all contribute to the rapidly evolving landscape of agriculture and underscore the importance of agricultural innovation. Advances in genomic science offer new opportunities to address many of the challenges for the future.
We are studying the patterns of attack by a community of insect herbivores on plants; the work involves field biology, chemical ecology, genetics, and entomology. Our basic research involves milkweed plants, nearly 120 species from North America (and 20 from South America), which grow in various habitats and are attacked by a specialized community of insects. Some of the work is evolutionary in terms of quantifying phylogenetic patterns associated with the evolution of specialization (in insects parasites) and other work is more ecological, based on community interactions.
The project is focused on the safe and effective development and commercialization of bio-engineered crops in developing countries.
My efforts with the New York State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program address the management and reduction of environmental, health, and economic risks from pests and pest management techniques, including pesticides. My work encompasses pests of communities, schools, homes, municipal facilities, hospitals, parks, and all non-agricultural settings.
All lateral organs in plant shoots are derived from shoot meristems, which are discrete populations of stems cells that are self-renewing and organogenic. Likewise, grain yield in maize is dependent upon the formation and maintenance of a variety of shoot meristem structures in the ear inflorescence. Genetic and genomic analyses of meristems will provide additional insight into the mechanisms of shoot meristem function in an important crop plant.
In 2007-2008, we continued delivery of a new model for teaching science communication and outreach skills to science graduate students. In addition to delivering the course at Cornell, we helped institutions both in the US and internationally in developing similar courses and workshops.
We are developing a method to convert lignocellulosic biomass (agricultural waste like wheat straw or corn stover) into butanol, a renewable fuel that can be used to power combustion engines.
This project seeks to identify genes associated with seed development, germination, vigor and dormancy.
My current projects include development of educational software for the teaching of mathematical modeling in animal behavior and acoustics and hearing. For mathematical modeling, I wrote software and lab exercises for testing in a large lecture course. Results of educational assessment show that this project met its learning goals, and I have now received a full-development grant from National Science Foundation. This project is ongoing.
We are developing a multi-pathogen detection system for the rapid identification of known and emerging pathogens of solanaceous crop plants (potato, tomato, pepper, and eggplant).