Department News

Bailey Nurseries, a fifth-generation family-owned company, has been involved with the department for decades. They have provided plants for the display garden, scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students, and supported conferences hosted on campus. On October 6, the Bailey family was invited to campus to thank them for their myriad of contributions.

Science does not happen at the University of Minnesota without support from intersecting industries. This support can take many forms, such as directly working with a company to release a new variety of plant into the market, or the industry lobbying to get public funding for a research area. Other times these relationships are more tangential, formed when the research experience at the University compliments the needs of an organization that may or may not have plants as its end product.

The greenhouse at North Community High School is a small space, just big enough to fit the 10 students in Mr. Vreeland’s 11th and 12th grade science class. Five years ago this space was just one more unused room in a school facing the cutting block. Today it is the apex of an initiative around youth development and urban agriculture in North Minneapolis, led by the University of Minnesota, social justice non-profit organization Project Sweetie Pie, and North High.

When Royal Heins was first starting graduate school, he made a decisive promise to himself that he would continue to be an active part of the floriculture industry until the very last day of his career. This spring he will receive the inaugural Horticultural Science Distinguished Alumnus Award for his accomplishments and present as part of HortSci Grows.

Wind blows through the leaves of the forest canopy, the smell of fish and wet grass in the air. Insects buzz through the morning mist and birds chirp territorial warning calls to one another. Water gently laps the rocky shoreline, the sun glinting off Lake Tamarack. Today, Madeline Esterl (B.S. 2017) plans to set this scene on fire.

It’s a fungus that can devastate an entire grape crop from leaves to fruit, eliminating entire yields: powdery mildew. The fear of powdery mildew leads to frequent fungicide applications, but graduate student Soon Li Teh (Applied Plant Science, Ph.D.) hopes for a better way to control it. Advised by professors Jim Luby and Adrian Hegeman, he is combining DNA marker-assisted breeding with metabolomics to speed up the selection process towards powdery mildew-resistant wine grape varieties.

As Jack Pahl (B.S. Horticulture ’14) picks up a slice of pizza and heads to the table at the front of 310 Alderman Hall, he admits this is the first time he’s been back to campus since his graduation. Since leaving the U he’s been hard at work at Pahl’s Market Garden Center in Apple Valley, where he’s learning the ropes to manage the 6th-generation family-owned farm. What brought him back for his first visit to Saint Paul was the chance to sit on the department’s inaugural alumni panel to share with students the the lessons he’s learned since graduation.

What sparked your interest in a career working with plants? Many people can trace their interest in plants back to one or two people. Now you have a chance to get the next generation interested in horticulture. CFANS has started an exciting opportunity called the Alumni Ambassador Program, which invites alumni to share their professional and collegiate experiences with students who are looking to explore careers in the food, agricultural, and natural resource sciences.

The structures of today morph into history alongside the innovations of tomorrow. This idea lays the groundwork behind the exhibition “Still . . . Life,” a collaboration between three professors, including Neil Anderson from the Department of Horticultural Science currently viewable at the Weisman Art Museum. During the 2010–2011 school year, when two of the artists were on Fulbright sabbaticals in the Czech Republic, the three collaborators traveled to Jewish cemeteries around Bohemia and Moravia as an alternate way to explore the history of the Holocaust than the better-known concentration camps.

Vervet monkeys have specific alarm calls for leopards, snakes, and eagles. Blackbirds give off a high seee call when birds of prey are nearby. And plants get…gassy? Over the last 30 years research has shown that plants, much like animals, ‘scream’ at each other when being attacked by pests through the specific gasses they give off. Recent findings in John Erwin’s lab, however, indicate that these gasses do more than just warn nearby plants to be on high alert: they also call in beneficial insects.

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Horticulture Newsletter

Newsletter cover - Summertime - Spring/Summer 2018Like what you see? Many of the stories on the website are featured in our newsletter Horticulture. You can PDF icondownload a PDF of the most recent newsletter or fill out this online form to receive the next edition in print or via email.

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Past Issues

Horticulture has been in circulation bi-annually since spring of 2011. Check out all the previous issues below: