I'm a fruit crop physiologist with expertise in the physiology and management of apple and grape growth and development, environmental responses, and the integration with cultural practices. Research methods include experimentation in the field and controlled environment, dynamic simulation modeling and development of innovative new technologies for sensing the environment and plant health.
My area of research is integrative plant and crop physiology, primarily on fruit crops. I investigate the individual physiological bases of specific processes such as the regulation of sink activity in the grape berry, carbon partitioning as related to developmental stage, temperature, water availability and light microclimate. I try, however, to also emphasize how these individual processes are integrated in the whole plant and what the grower can do to influence such processes to improve plant productivity, especially under field conditions. As indicated by our increasing use of dynamic simulation modeling, I feel that we will need more and more integrative physiology to understand plant responses to the environment and cultural treatments, to improve our management and culture, and to attack increasingly complex problems such as global climate change and environmental compatibility through IPM and sustainable approaches. I have a new emphasis on application and integration of new micro-engineering, remote sensing, information technologies to problems of agriculture
Outreach and Extension Focus
My approach to extension and outreach reflects my research on understanding the principles of fruit crop behavior in relationship to the environment and cultural practices. I feel that for complex issues such as growing fruit crops in NY, recipe approaches are dangerous as each year presents new challenges that can only be handled by knowledge of a complex system and how it behaves. I extend this approach and information at different levels and in different formats. For fruit growers, the focus is on understanding the principles of crop behavior so they can adjust appropriately each year or location. For school children the message is simpler but also focused on how plants behave.
I teach an Advanced Viticulture Senior/Grad course and lead and co-teach a Grapevine Biology junior/senior course. These are upper division classes so a primary learning outcome is the ability to synthesize substantial amount of factual information about grapevines and their culture to critically assess complex issues in grapevine physiology and culture. This requires creative thinking and the use of multiple hypotheses or explanations to elucidate the many complex interactions of plant, environment and culture. Examples are climate change, dealing with site and plant variability, and regulation of growth and wine quality by water relations.