The Cornell Willow Team

On this page, we have highlighted our multidisciplinary team of willow researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They work closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educators across New York State to transform research results into commercial application.

Larry Smart

Larry is an Associate Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics in the Horticultural Section, Cornell University, at Cornell AgriTech (NYSAES) in Geneva, NY. He is a plant geneticist and physiologist who directs the largest shrub willow breeding program in North America established in 1998 at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse and moved to Cornell in 2009. The work in Larry’s lab is focused on developing and testing new willow varieties that produce high yields on marginal land for bioenergy, as well as studying the basic genetic mechanisms that determine variation and regulation of traits important for bioenergy and biofuels production. Contact Larry by email or visit his profile at CALS.

Current Lab Members

Craig Carlson

Craig is a Ph.D. candidate of Plant Breeding and Genetics in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. His research focuses on the genetics and genomics of hybrid vigor in shrub willow. Utilizing RNA-Seq, his primary goal is to correlate modules of gene expression with traits important for biofuel production within and among diverse hybrid pedigrees. This work will complement the growing genomics resources and predictive tools to aid the improvement of hybrid shrub willow bioenergy crops. He is also involved in linkage mapping, genome assembly, polyploid genomics, and sex determination. Contact Craig by email.

Dustin Wilkerson

Dustin is a PhD candidate of Plant Breeding in the Horticulture Section at Cornell University. His primary research focuses on the genetic characterization of pest and disease resistance traits in common parent shrub willow mapping populations. Contact Dustin by email.

Brennan Hyden

Brennan is a PhD student of Plant Breeding in the Horticulture Section at Cornell University. His primary research focuses on the genetics and genomics of sex determination in willow (Salix spp.). Contact Brennan by email.

Eric Fabio

Eric is a Post Doctoral Research Associate in the Horticulture Section at Cornell University. His research interests are focused on understanding the interactions between environmental and physiological factors influencing shrub willow biomass production and yield. This work aims to improve the current knowledge of constraints to willow yield on marginal land and to aid in the selection of cultivars developed specifically for conditions in the Northeastern U.S. Ultimately a set of guidelines and recommendations will be developed that aid willow growers in achieving yield goals, while improving the sustainability of willow production. Contact Eric by email.

Willow Research Collaborators

The Chris Smart Lab

chris smart

Chris Smart

Chris is the Director of the School of Integrative Plant Science and a Professor in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section with a broad background in disease diagnosis, epidemiology, population genetics, and resistance mechanisms across many taxa of pathogens.  Her main interests are in diseases of cucurbits, solanaceous crops, and other vegetables, but she has begun to study leaf rusts (Melampsora spp.) that cause disease on shrub willow, including population diversity and mechanisms of resistance.  Visit her lab web site.

Past and Current Alumni

Undergraduate Students (Former Summer Scholar Mentees and Interns)

Current Postdoctoral Researchers

Former Graduate Students

  • Fred E. Gouker, Ph.D., Field of Plant Breeding
  • Michelle Serapiglia, Ph.D., Nov. 2009, SUNY-ESF (co-advised by Art Stipanovic)
    Thesis: “Variation in Biomass Composition and Regulation of Lignocellulosic Deposition in Shrub Willow (Salix ) Bioenergy Crops”
    Current position: Post-doctoral Associate, USDA-ARS, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, PA
  • Emily Puckett, M.S., July 2008, SUNY-ESF
    Thesis: “Molecular Basis for Differential Uptake and Sensitivity to Arsenic Among Clones of Shrub Willow”
    Current position: Ph.D. Student, Univ. of Missouri – Columbia
  • Dongqing Yan, M.P.S., Aug. 2007, SUNY-ESF
    Current position: Research Associate, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY
  • Jason Purdy, M.S., July 2006, SUNY-ESF
    Thesis: “Assessing the Potential of Shrub Willow (Salix ) and the Role of Fungal Symbioses in Phytoremediation Applications”
    Last known position: Environmental Scientist, Loureiro Engineering Associates, Inc., Plainville, CT
  • Juan Lin, Ph.D., June 2006, SUNY-ESF
    Thesis: “Molecular Analysis and Assessment of the Genetic Diversity of Native and Naturalized Shrub Willows”
    Current position: Research Associate, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY or
  • Todd Polanowicz, M.P.S., May 2005, SUNY-ESF
    Current position: Product Development Program Manager, Philips Healthcare, Andover, MA
  • Ingrid Phillips, M.S., Dec. 2002, SUNY-ESF (co-advised by Charles Maynard)
    Thesis: “Quantitative Genetics of Traits Predictive of Biomass Yield in First- and Second-Generation Salix eriocephala
    Current position: Research Support Specialist, Cornell University
  • William Moskal, Jr., M.S., July 2002, SUNY-ESF
    Thesis: “Isolation of Guard-Cell-Specific Genes by Enhancer Trap Tagging in Arabidopsis thaliana
    Current position: Research Associate, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN
  • Kimberly Cameron, Ph.D., June 2001, SUNY-ESF
    Thesis: “Chemical Analysis of Epicuticular Wax and the Role of Lipid Transfer Protein in Wax Deposition”
    Current position: educational consultant, Tully, NY
  • Richard Kopp, Ph.D., Nov. 2000, SUNY-ESF (co-advised by Lawrence Abrahamson)
    Thesis: “Genetic Improvement of Salix Using Traditional Breeding and AFLP Fingerprinting”
    Current position: Research Associate, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY or
  • Eriko Motegi Heise, M.S., Aug. 2000, SUNY-ESF (co-advised by James Gibbs)
    Thesis: “Genetic Diversity of Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) Populations in Relation to Stand Disturbance History”
    Current position: Assistant Professor, Corning Community College, Corning, NY
  • Nobutaka Kato, M.P.S., Sept. 1999, SUNY-ESF (co-advised by Theresa Donovan)
    Current position: Postdoctoral Fellow, Scripps Research Inst., LaJolla, CA or
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