Back to top

Nina Bassuk

Nina Bassuk


33 Plant Science
(607) 255-4586

Nina Bassuk obtained her PhD in Horticulture from the University of London, UK and is currently a professor and program leader of the Urban Horticulture Institute at Cornell University. She also sits on the board of the New York State Urban Forestry Council. Nina is co- author of 'Trees in the Urban Landscape,' a text for landscape architects and horticultural practitioners on establishing trees in disturbed and urban landscapes. A native New Yorker, Nina's has authored over 100 papers focusing on the physiological problems of plants growing in urban environments, including improved plant selections for difficult sites, soil modification including the development of 'CU-Structural Soil' and improved transplanting technology. She is on the Technical advisory committee of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) and works closely with municipalities to help implement best practices in urban forestry management. Nina helped to develop the Student Weekend Arborist Team (SWAT) to inventory public trees in small communities. She is a frequent invited speaker at conferences and workshops and most recently received the Stephen H.Weiss Presidential Fellowship from Cornell University.

Research Focus

I work on improving the quality of urban life by enhancing the functions of plants within the urban ecosystem. We integrate plant stress physiology, horticultural science, plant ecology and soil science and applies them to three broad areas of inquiry. They are:

1) The selection, evaluation and propagation of superior plants with improved tolerance of biotic and abiotic stresses, and enhanced functional uses in the disturbed landscape.

2) Developing improved technologies for assessing and ameliorating site limitations to improve plant growth and development.

3) Developing improved transplant technologies to insure the successful establishment of plants in the urban environment.

Outreach and Extension Focus

I work with municipalities to assess and manage their urban tree resources while applying appropriate technologies. Our outreach efforts use publications, websites, and face-to-face contact through meetings, conferences and field days.

Teaching Focus

Our courses focus on the identification, uses and establishment of woody plants in urban and garden settings. By understanding the environmental limitations to plant growth, we will be able to critically assess potential planting sites, select appropriate trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers for a given site, and learn about the principles and practices of site amelioration and plant establishment. Design followed by written specifications and graphic details will be produced to implement these practices.

Woody Plants: identification and use in the landscape

Awards and Honors

  • Alex L. Shigo Award for Excellence in Arboricultural Education (2015) International Society of Arboriculture
  • Olmsted Award (2015) National Arbor Day Foundation
  • Senior Scholars Award (2015) New York State Arborists Association
  • Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship (2015) Cornell University
  • Teaching Award (2015) American Horticultural Society

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Yin, J., Bassuk, N. L., Oldburg, M. W., & Bauerle, T. L. (2014). Fine Root Hydraulic Conductance is Related to Post-transplant Recovery of Two Quercus Tree Species. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 139:649-656.
  • Cowett, F., & Bassuk, N. L. (2014). Statewide assessment of street trees in New York State, USA. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 13:213-220.
  • Cowett, F., & Bassuk, N. L. (2012). SWAT (Student Weekend Arborist Team): A Model for Land Grant Institutions and Cooperative Extension Systems to Conduct Street Tree Inventories. Journal of Extension. 50:Article EFEA9.
  • Bassuk, N. L., Grabosky, J., Mucciardi, A., & Raffel, G. (2011). Ground Penetrating Radar Accurately Locates Tree Roots in Two Soil Media Under Pavement. Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. 37:160-166.
  • Bassuk, N. L., & Trowbridge, P. J. (2010). Creating the Urban Eden: Sustainable Landscape Establishment in Theory and Practice. HortTechnology. 20:485-486.
  • Conolly, N. B., Bassuk, N. L., & MacRae Jr., P. F. (2010). Response of Five Hydrangea Species to Foliar Salt Spray. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 28:125-128.
  • Amissah, N., & Bassuk, N. L. (2009). Cutting Back Stock Plants Promotes Adventitious Rooting in Shoots of Quercus bicolor and Quercus macrocarpa. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 27:159-165.
  • Grabosky, J., Haffner, E., & Bassuk, N. L. (2009). Plant Available Moisture in Stone-soil Media for use Under Pavement While Allowing Urban Tree Root Growth. Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. 35:271-278.
  • Amissah, N., Paolillo, D., & Bassuk, N. L. (2008). Adventitious Root Formation in Stem Cuttings of Quercus bicolor and Quercus macrocarpa and its Relationship to Stem Anatomy. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 133:1-8.
  • Grabosky, ., & Bassuk, N. L. (2008). Sixth- and Tenth-Year Growth Measurements for Three Tree Species in a Load-Bearing Stone–Soil Blend Under Pavement and a Tree Lawn in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. 34:265-266.

Presentations and Activities

  • best Practices for Establishing Trees in the Urban Environment. NY State Arboirists Association Annual Meeting. September 2014. NY State Arboirists Association . Syracuse, NY.
  • Great Trees for Urban Landscapes. New York Urban Forestry Conference Annual Meeting. July 2014. New York Urban Forestry Council. Long Island, NY.
  • Urban Sites are made for tree diversity”. Conference on Tree Diversity. June 2014. International Society of ASrboriculture and Swedish Agricultural University. Alnarp, Sweden.
  • Twenty Years of Cornell University Structural Soil: Growing trees in Sidewalks and Parking Lots.”. International Conference on Structural Soils. June 2014. Danish Landscape Institute. Copenhagen, DK.
  • A Searchable Woody Plant Database. SUNY Technology Conference. May 2014. SUNY. Ithaca, NY.
  • Organic amendment remediation of urban soils”. New York City Parks and Recreation Seminar. April 2014. New York City Parks and Recreation. NYC.
  • Woody Plants for Storm Water Retention Practices. Sustainable Landscape Webinar. April 2014. Dept of Horticulture, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY.
  • Soils in the Urban Landscape. Arborist Training. March 2014. CCE. Millbrook , NY.
  • Urban Soils Remediation and the Use of Organic Amendments. Conference of Educators in Landscape Architecture. March 2014. CELA. Baltimore, MD.
  • Remediating compromised soils.”. ELA Annual Conference. February 2014. Ecological Landscape Association. Springfield , MA.