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David Wolfe

David Wolfe


117 Plant Science
(607) 255-7888

Dr. David Wolfe is Professor of Plant and Soil Ecology in the School of Integrative Plant Science (Horticulture Section) at Cornell University. Primary research interests and expertise include: soil and water conservation and management; plant stress physiology; and new tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation for managed and natural ecosystems.

Research Focus

Wolfe currently leads a USDA project focused on new tools for carbon, nitrogen, and greenhouse gas accounting and management in agroecosystems, and a New York State-funded Soil Health Initiative. Other activities include soil conservation and food security projects in East Africa.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Outreach includes formal Extension programming, such as overall project management of the New York Soil Health effort, and regional programming focused on agricultural climate change adaptation and mitigation. Wolfe also writes commentary and research summaries summaries for the popular press; news media interviews; and briefings and research summaries for policy-makers. He co-authored the 2008 and 2014 National Climate Assessments sponsored by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and was lead author of both the Ecosystems and Agriculture chapters of the 2011 New York State “ClimAID” report. He is also author of the award-winning popular science book on soil ecology, Tales From the Underground: A Natural History of Subterranean Life. He is on the Corporation of the Board for the New York Botanical Garden, and at Cornell serves on the Advisory Boards for the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and Cornell’s Institute for Climate Smart Solutions.

Teaching Focus

Current teaching responsibilities include: graduate and undergraduate student advising; serving on the curriculum committee for the Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) major and for the Climate Change minor; and teaching “Climate Change and the Future of Food” (PLHRT3600) and co-teaching "Experiential Writing in the Yucatan" (Winter Session, PLSCI/COMM 3090).

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

Presentations and Activities

  • Costs, constraints, and benefits of adoption of soil health practices. Soil and Crop Sci Seminar Series. September 2018. School of Integrative Plant Science,College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY United States.
  • Building healthy soils: a zero-risk and low-cost strategy for curbing climate change. The New Carbon Economy Consortium. May 2018. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Ithaca, NY.