Alaska: A home not only to enormous glaciers and wild salmon, but to a wide and unique variety of plant life. This was the destination for Horticultural Science professor Neil O. Anderson in fall of 2017 and again this spring, with the goal of expanding the germplasm collection for his chrysanthemum breeding program. Anderson’s focus species was Chrysanthemum arcticum and its two subspecies, commonly known as the arctic daisy, all of which grow primarily in coastal areas within the “last frontier” of the United States.
“In other labs you stay inside all day, but in my lab we go to the greenhouse and look at things that are alive.”
Abigail Diering, a Plant Science and Chemistry major from Denver, Colorado, speaks enthusiastically about her experience working in two Horticultural Science research laboratories. Her interest in plant research can be traced back to one of her first classes at the University of Minnesota: Plant Propagation, Horticultural Science’s introductory course covering the fundamentals of plant biology and a wide variety of growing techniques.
Bees need flowers and flowers need bees. This is one of the simplest lessons of the natural world, but as a graduate student in the Department of Horticultural Science, Nathan Hecht wants to know more about what this means specifically for Minnesota food production. How can our understanding of ecology inform the way we design our agricultural systems? That is, how can we create agricultural landscapes that are both more productive and sustainable?
When CFANS alumnus Garrett McCormick (B.S. Food Systems, 2015) was just fourteen, he began taking probiotics and noticed a big change in how he felt: he had more energy and he was ill less frequently. Years later, after meeting Amanda Pederson (B.S. Nutrition, 2016) in a cooking class at the University of Minnesota, they turned this insight into their careers.
When APS master’s student Alex Liebman, co-advised by Nick Jordan and Julie Grossman, traveled to Colombia to work at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), he planned to study how soil carbon changes over time and with the introduction of new plants. While there Liebman found himself asking questions about how Colombia’s landscape had changed, how 60 years of civil war affected local farmers, and the relationship between agricultural policy and institutions like CIAT.
Why don’t homeowners buy low-input, more sustainable turfgrass? Do genetic markers really save apple breeders money? Will people spend more money on produce grown with aquaponics? These kinds of questions are vital to the real-world success of applied plant research, but they require an entirely different kind of science: economics. Professor Chengyan Yue’s work in horticultural marketing bridges the gap between economic realities and applied horticultural research.
The Department of Horticultural Science is excited to welcome Laura Shannon as our newest faculty member, studying potato breeding and genetics.
For over a century, the Bailey family has been a philanthropic leader in CFANS. They have created multiple scholarships, established the first endowed faculty chair in CFANS, and supported countless events and endeavors around campus. In August, they showed their commitment to the next generation of horticulturists yet again through a $1 million gift from the Gordon and Margaret Bailey Foundation to support students studying horticulture.
The systems that bring food to our tables are complex, and include everything from farming to consumption to recycling. While traditional horticultural and agronomic degrees study the plants that make up these systems, faculty members at the U of M saw a need for a degree that took a more holistic and interdisciplinary approach to food. In 2013 this led to the creation of the Food Systems major, which examines not just how to grow food, but how agricultural systems interact with the communities they serve and exist within.
Students participating in the U of M Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), the Urban Scholars Program, and the Step-Up Program worked with labs in Horticultural Science and Entomology to study floral and pollinator diversity at established urban community gardens and newly-planted pollinator gardens in Minneapolis.