Latest News

January 16, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have received a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, to design a low-cost, integrated system that can identify and screen for high-yielding, deeper-rooted crops. The interdisciplinary team, led by Jonathan Lynch, distinguished professor of plant nutrition, will combine a suite of technologies designed to identify phenotypes and genes related to desirable root traits, with the goal of enhancing the breeding of crop varieties better adapted for nitrogen and water acquisition and carbon sequestration.

January 9, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A $3.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation will support a new research project aimed at pinpointing the genes that confer disease resistance in cacao. The ultimate goal of the four-year study is to develop a new approach that plant scientists and breeders can use to identify the genetic basis for disease resistance in a variety of perennial crops, according to lead researcher Mark Guiltinan, professor of plant molecular biology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

January 9, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State's Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs has named 15 faculty members as distinguished professors. College of Agricultural Sciences •Jonathan P. Lynch, professor of plant nutrition

Dan Stearns, J. Franklin Styer Professor in College of Agricultural Sciences
January 4, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dan Stearns, J. Franklin Styer Professor in the Department of Plant Science at Penn State, recently was awarded the status of Trailblazer by the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

David Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology
January 4, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Mortensen, professor of weed and applied plant ecology in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State, was appointed to the National Organic Standards Board by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Mortensen will serve a five-year term on the board as a farming systems ecotoxicology expert.

October 25, 2016

Julianna Razryadov’s passion for green roofs has led her around the world and back again. After traveling to Switzerland, New Zealand and Malaysia, Razryadov, who grew up in New York City, returned to the Northeast to study the benefits of using native plants to boost the sustainability and aesthetics of green roofs across the United States.

Interning on Penn State's athletic grounds crew has provided a valuable learning experience for turfgrass science majors, from left, Darek Eckley, Thomas Goyne and Keith Salmon.
October 10, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When the Nittany Lions take the field for this year's Homecoming game on Oct. 8, Beaver Stadium spectators and television viewers alike will watch the team play on a vibrant, green athletic field, carefully manicured and painted with precision for its game-day glory.

Greg Roth, professor of agronomy, has been named associate head of the Department of Plant Science.
October 10, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Greg Roth, professor of agronomy in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, will become associate head of the college's Department of Plant Science, effective Oct. 1. In announcing the appointment, Rick Roush, dean of the college, said Roth will work with Department Head Erin Connolly, faculty and staff to keep a large, complex department with multiple educational and research programs functioning smoothly. The department employs more than 100 faculty members and research, extension and support staff.

August 24, 2016

Horticulture professor Rob Crassweller has been helping apple growers boost production for more than 30 years. The University's College of Agricultural Sciences has been conducting research on apple tree rootstock at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs since the early 1970s. Here, a group from the Pennsylvania Fruit Grower's Association tours the orchard, led by Horticulture Professor Rob Crassweller (in light-colored hat).

August 16, 2016

Dr. Jonathan Lynch named Chair of the Plant Efficiency Advisory Council for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a nonprofit organization established by the 2014 Farm Bill to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.

Mikaela Hermstedt sits on the Cliffs of Moher.  Image: Penn State
August 5, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Plant Science majors Casey Baxter and Mikaela Hermstedt may know all there is to know about the Irish potato famine. This past spring, they took HORT 499H Walking in the Footsteps of the Irish During the Irish Potato Famine: Examinations of New World Crops in Old World Societies. The honors class included a 10-day trip to Ireland after a semester of lectures on the potato and other essential crops of both the United States and Ireland.

The ability to grow industrial hemp could benefit farmers in Pennsylvania by allowing them to diversify their crop bases.  Image: Courtesy University of Kentucky
August 1, 2016

On July 20, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law allowing the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and institutions of higher education to grow hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) for research purposes. Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences is working with the state department of agriculture to develop the policies, procedures and applications needed to facilitate and guide such research projects.

John Boujoukos, left, and Hayly Hoch carry bins of harvested red lettuce. For the first time this year the Penn State farm club has a new plot of land off of Fox Hollow Road.
July 8, 2016

Summer marks first production season for student-run farm 1-acre farm grows and sells produce to university, local businesses Organization plans to host tours and events for summer

Scott DiLoreto, greenhouse operations manager, uses climate-control technology to reduce energy output and costs in Penn State's greenhouses.
June 21, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A group of Penn State students huddles over a wooden worktable in Headhouse II. Their hands move in unison as they clip the leaves and clean a harvest of microgreens, which were planted in the greenhouse in early spring. In a few days, the gardeners-in-training will dine on the tiny leaves (that look more like shamrocks than lettuce) during an end-of-semester potluck. Alongside their microgreens, the students grew organic tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and herbs as part of a hydroponics and aquaponics class, which taught the ins-and-outs of using soilless processes to grow plants. The students’ efforts — which on a weekly basis yielded up to 80 pounds of cucumbers alone — were a success, in part, due to new technology added to the nearly 60-year-old greenhouse.

A farmer in Ecuador opens cocoa pods to remove the beans. The endowed cocoa research program at Penn State is helping to ensure a stable supply of quality beans for the benefit of growers, chocolate manufacturers and chocolate lovers around the world.
June 15, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- When trade organizations representing the chocolate industry created an endowment in 1986 to support Penn State research on Theobroma cacao -- the cocoa tree -- the use of biotechnology to improve plants was still in its infancy. Now, three decades later, the endowment has grown, and along with it the scientific knowledge that is helping to promote economic security for cocoa farmers in developing countries and to ensure a reliable supply of the raw material needed to manufacture one of the world's favorite delicacies.

Farmers in the developing world would benefit from nutrient-efficient crops.
June 2, 2016

Old-fashioned breeding techniques are bearing more fruit than genetic engineering in developing hyper-efficient plants.

The College of Agricultural Sciences has introduced University of South Carolina faculty member Erin Connolly as head of Penn State's Department of Plant Science.
May 5, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Erin Connolly, professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, has been named professor and head of Penn State's Department of Plant Science, effective May 15.

Dwight Lingenfelter, weed science extension associate in the College of Agricultural Sciences, stands next to a Palmer amaranth plant in a corn field. The weed can grow to as high as 8 feet.
May 4, 2016

The battle against invasive species is never-ending for agricultural producers, and the latest example is a pair of weeds that threaten to cause significant damage to crop yields across Pennsylvania. Researchers and extension specialists in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are warning growers to be on the lookout for Palmer amaranth and waterhemp, two species of pigweed that are gaining a foothold in the state.

March 9, 2016

Over thousands of years, most forests in the eastern United States evolved with frequent fire, which promoted tree species and ecosystems that were both fire and drought resistant. In little more than a century, humans upset that balance, suggest researchers, who blame the change, in part, on the well-meaning efforts of Smokey Bear.

March 4, 2016

Earlier this month, Tom Serensits traveled from his home in central Pennsylvania to the warm coasts of Hawaii and California to spend his days not in the sand and surf, but in the turf. Specifically, the turfgrass-covered field for the 2016 Pro Bowl and the practice fields for Super Bowl 50. Serensits, manager of Penn State’s Center for Sports Surface Research (CSSR) and a former assistant field manager for the Philadelphia Eagles, was on site to consult with the teams’ field managers to make sure the Pro Bowl field was ready for game day and that each of the seven Super Bowl practice fields met safety guidelines during the week of rough-and-tumble practices leading up to the championship.