Reflections on Jay Jacobson (1934 – 2022)

Reflections on Jay Jacobson (1934 – 2022)

We at BTI were sad to hear of the passing of Dr. Jay Jacobson, a plant physiologist who spent 35 years conducting research in the Environmental Biology group at the Institute. During the 1960s and 1970s, scientists began to recognize that the most serious and...
Reflections on Vladimir “Vlado” Macko (1930 – 2022)

Reflections on Vladimir “Vlado” Macko (1930 – 2022)

We at BTI were sad to hear of the passing of Dr. Vladimir “Vlado” Macko, a plant biochemist who spent nearly 30 years conducting research at BTI. After joining BTI to work on rust fungi in December 1969, Macko and his colleagues discovered the chemical nature of host...
PlantGENE to catalyze plant biotechnology improvement

PlantGENE to catalyze plant biotechnology improvement

As the global population booms and climate change continues, improving crops to produce more food, use less resources like water and pesticides, and survive harsher environments will be needed to feed the planet sustainably. For example, fungal diseases are...
Worms as a model for personalized medicine

Worms as a model for personalized medicine

Tailoring a person’s diet or medicine based on their genomes has been a goal of the medical community for decades, but the strategy has not been widely successful because people metabolize chemicals differently. A drug may work differently for two patients because...
Phosphate biosensors could lead to more efficient fertilizer usage

Phosphate biosensors could lead to more efficient fertilizer usage

Shiqi Zhang spent many months sitting alone in a dark room, staring intently into the lens of a confocal microscope as she focused a laser beam on plant cells mounted on a glass slide. She was measuring changes in the intensity of fluorescent light emitted by the...
The missing links: Finding function in lincRNAs

The missing links: Finding function in lincRNAs

Genomes contain regions between protein-coding genes that produce lengthy RNA molecules that never give rise to a protein. These long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) are thought to have important functions, such as regulating responses to environmental change....
Wild tomato genome will benefit domesticated cousins

Wild tomato genome will benefit domesticated cousins

Wild relatives of crops are becoming increasingly valuable to plant researchers and breeders. During the process of domestication, crops tend to lose many genes, but wild relatives often retain genes that could be useful – such as genes that confer resistance to...
New species of alga named for poet Amanda Gorman

New species of alga named for poet Amanda Gorman

“And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.” – Amanda Gorman, from “The Hill We Climb.”   In 2020, a group of researchers in Fay-Wei Li’s lab at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) had done what many scientists dream of...
BTI Welcomes Summer Student Interns

BTI Welcomes Summer Student Interns

On May 31, Boyce Thompson Institute welcomed 41 of the country’s brightest undergraduate students from universities around the country to experience the life of a researcher for 10 weeks. Ten more research interns from local area high schools will join the Institute...
Congratulations to BTI’s Spring 2022 Graduates!

Congratulations to BTI’s Spring 2022 Graduates!

We are pleased to announce that three BTI researchers received their degrees during the Cornell University commencement ceremony on May 28. Congratulations to our newest alumni! Alex Ogbonna, Mueller lab, PhD in Plant Breeding & Genetics, Dissertation title:...
Sheila Ochugboju Named Executive Director of Alliance for Science

Sheila Ochugboju Named Executive Director of Alliance for Science

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications initiative dedicated to promoting access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security,...
BTI’s Greg Martin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

BTI’s Greg Martin Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Greg Martin, Boyce Schulze Downey Professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute and Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) at Cornell University, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Martin is one of 150 new members announced on May...
New software to help discover valuable compounds

New software to help discover valuable compounds

As a postdoctoral research associate in the lab of BTI faculty member Frank Schroeder, Max Helf saw his labmates continually struggle when they were analyzing data. So, he decided to do something about it and developed a free, open-source app called Metaboseek, which...
Professor Dan Klessig retires after 48 years of research

Professor Dan Klessig retires after 48 years of research

After 48 years of performing molecular biology research, including 22 years at Boyce Thompson Institute, Professor Dan Klessig retired on December 31. The former BTI President will remain associated with the Institute as an Emeritus Professor. A self-described “farmer...
Secrets of quillwort photosynthesis could boost crop efficiency

Secrets of quillwort photosynthesis could boost crop efficiency

The humble quillworts are an ancient group of about 250 small, aquatic plants that have largely been ignored by modern botanists. A group of researchers, led by Boyce Thompson Institute’s Fay-Wei Li, have sequenced the first quillwort genome and uncovered some secrets...
David Stern to Step Down as BTI President

David Stern to Step Down as BTI President

After leading the Boyce Thompson Institute for 17 years, David Stern has decided to step down as president. He will retain the role during the search for his successor, and plans to lead the Stern lab well into the future. A remarkable example of ascending through the...
NSF Launches $25 Million Digital Biology Center

NSF Launches $25 Million Digital Biology Center

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $25 million over five years to four participating institutions to create the Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems (CROPPS), which will develop new methods for observing, recording and modulating plant...
Alex Ogbonna Wins Borlaug Scholar Award from NAPB

Alex Ogbonna Wins Borlaug Scholar Award from NAPB

Boyce Thompson Institute is proud to congratulate Alex Ogbonna for receiving a 2021 Borlaug Scholar Award from the National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB). Ogbonna is a Cornell University graduate student in Lukas Mueller’s lab at BTI, where he works to leverage...
Sarah Evanega Joins BTI Faculty

Sarah Evanega Joins BTI Faculty

Boyce Thompson Institute is pleased to welcome Professor Sarah Evanega as the newest addition to our faculty. Sarah is a science communicator whose research and outreach efforts focus on the nexus of plant science and society, and strive to ensure that plant science...
BTI Welcomes Summer Student Interns

BTI Welcomes Summer Student Interns

On June 1, Boyce Thompson Institute welcomed 28 of the country’s brightest undergraduate students from universities around the country to experience the life of a researcher for 10 weeks. Seven more interns from local area high schools will join the Institute for six...
New Guide for Plant Scientists to Reenvision Outreach

New Guide for Plant Scientists to Reenvision Outreach

Advances in plant science are becoming increasingly important to feed the world while minimizing harm to the environment, but there aren’t enough students interested in the field to keep up with the need. To combat this trend, a group of 30 scientists have published a...
New Cyanobacteria Species Spotlights Early Life

New Cyanobacteria Species Spotlights Early Life

Cyanobacteria are one of the unsung heroes of life on Earth. They first evolved to perform photosynthesis about 2.4 billion years ago, pumping tons of oxygen into the atmosphere – a period known as the Great Oxygenation Event – which enabled the evolution of...
Sarah Evanega Wins Borlaug CAST Communication Award

Sarah Evanega Wins Borlaug CAST Communication Award

BTI adjunct faculty member Sarah Evanega has been awarded the coveted Borlaug CAST Communication Award. Evanega is the founding director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, a global communications effort that promotes evidence-informed decision-making across a range...
Fungi could manipulate bacteria to enrich soil with nutrients

Fungi could manipulate bacteria to enrich soil with nutrients

A team of researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) has discovered a distinct group of bacteria that may help fungi and plants acquire soil nutrients. The findings could point the way to cost-effective and eco-friendly methods of enriching soil and improving...
Gene discovery may help peaches tolerate climate stress

Gene discovery may help peaches tolerate climate stress

A BTI-led team has identified genes enabling peaches and their wild relatives to tolerate stressful conditions – findings that could help the domesticated peach adapt to climate change. The study, co-led by Boyce Thompson Institute faculty member Zhangjun Fei,...
Reflections on Dick Staples

Reflections on Dick Staples

Dick Staples was an essential member of BTI and the broader plant science community for more than 70 years, from his early days as a graduate student, decades as a faculty member, to his most recent role as an Emeritus Professor. With his passing on January 15, two...
Tomato’s Wild Ancestor Is a Genomic Reservoir for Plant Breeders

Tomato’s Wild Ancestor Is a Genomic Reservoir for Plant Breeders

Thousands of years ago, people in the region now known as South America began domesticating Solanum pimpinellifolium, a weedy plant with small, intensely flavored fruit. Over time, the plant evolved into S. lycopersicum – the modern cultivated tomato. Although today’s...
Silk Road Contains Genomic Resources for Improving Apples

Silk Road Contains Genomic Resources for Improving Apples

The fabled Silk Road – the 4,000-mile stretch between China and Western Europe where trade flourished from the second century B.C. to the 14th century A.D. – is responsible for one of our favorite and most valuable fruits: the domesticated apple (Malus domestica)....
Summer Intern Blog Week 7: How a Bee is like a Moose

Summer Intern Blog Week 7: How a Bee is like a Moose

As I’m writing this, tomorrow is the first day of my final year of college. Even as a senior, I can feel a little bit of nervous anticipation creeping in. There’s so much potential in a beginning. Anything can happen. So much left to learn and so little time to learn...
Michelle Heck Receives Grant to Study Devastating Crop Viruses

Michelle Heck Receives Grant to Study Devastating Crop Viruses

Plant viruses in the Luteoviridae family devastate many crop varieties, including potatoes, small grains and cotton. The viruses are spread by sap-sucking aphids, which transmit the pathogen into a plant’s vasculature as they feed. Unfortunately, no adequate...
Plant Science Research Network Releases Decadal Vision 2020-2030

Plant Science Research Network Releases Decadal Vision 2020-2030

Plant science research has tremendous potential to address pressing global issues including climate change, food insecurity and sustainability. However, without sustained investment in plant science, the necessary research to generate innovative discoveries that solve...
Summer Intern Blog Weeks 5 & 6: Digging Beneath the Surface

Summer Intern Blog Weeks 5 & 6: Digging Beneath the Surface

By the fourth week of BTI’s Professional Development Series, I was beginning to fall into a bit of a routine. Every Wednesday, I made myself a cup of tea, grabbed a blanket, and settled down to watch one of BTI’s scientists present their research. Over the weeks, I...
Magdalena Julkowska Joins BTI as Newest Faculty Member

Magdalena Julkowska Joins BTI as Newest Faculty Member

Boyce Thompson Institute is excited to welcome Magdalena Julkowska to Ithaca, where she becomes our newest Assistant Professor. Magda’s main research focus is how environmental stress affects plant development and architecture, and she also plans to build an automated...
Summer Intern Blog Weeks 3 & 4: Demystifying Grad School

Summer Intern Blog Weeks 3 & 4: Demystifying Grad School

For a long time, I’ve avoided thinking about grad school. It’s not too hard to do at my small, undergrad-only college. During my first few years, it simply didn’t seem relevant. I was focused on athletics, classwork, and research. Graduate studies seemed like a...
BTI Awarded Numerous Grants

BTI Awarded Numerous Grants

While the past few months have disrupted all sense of normalcy, BTI researchers and staff have remained productive while working from home, or as parts of skeleton crews within the building. As the Institute uses a phased approach to slowly reopen our facilities, a...
Congratulations Spring 2020 Graduates!

Congratulations Spring 2020 Graduates!

We are pleased to announce that six BTI researchers received their degrees from Cornell University this spring. Congratulations to our newest alumni: Jason Hoki, Schroeder lab, PhD in Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Dissertation title: “Development of...
BTI Graduate Students Receive Schmittau-Novak Grants

BTI Graduate Students Receive Schmittau-Novak Grants

We would like to congratulate five BTI graduate students who are Spring 2020 Schmittau-Novak Grants Program recipients. Supported by a bequest from the estate of Jean Schmittau in honor of Joseph Novak, Cornell University Plant Biology Professor Emeritus, the...
Algal genome provides insights into first land plants

Algal genome provides insights into first land plants

In order to shift from water to land – a transition that still puzzles scientists – plants had to protect themselves from drying out and from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and they had to develop structures to support themselves without the buoyancy provided by water....
Harnessing Psyllid Peptides to Fight Citrus Greening Disease

Harnessing Psyllid Peptides to Fight Citrus Greening Disease

Citrus greening disease, also called huanglongbing (HLB), is a bacterial infection of citrus trees that results in small, misshapen and sour fruits that are unsuitable for consumption, ultimately killing the tree. Because there is no cure, HLB is a major threat to the...
Wallflowers Could Lead to New Drugs

Wallflowers Could Lead to New Drugs

Plant-derived chemicals called cardenolides have long been used to treat heart disease, and have shown potential as cancer therapies. But the compounds are very toxic, making it difficult for doctors to prescribe a dose that works without harming the patient. For...
Hornwort Genomes Could Lead to Crop Improvement

Hornwort Genomes Could Lead to Crop Improvement

Some 500 million years ago – when our continents were likely connected in a single land mass and most life existed underwater – hornworts were one of the first groups of plants to colonize land. But biologists have never understood much about the genetics of these...
Speedy Recovery: New Corn Performs Better in Cold

Speedy Recovery: New Corn Performs Better in Cold

Nearly everyone on Earth is familiar with corn. Literally. Around the world, each person eats an average of 70 pounds of the grain each year, with even more grown for animal feed and biofuel. And as the global population continues to boom, increasing the amount of...
Plants Found to Speak Roundworm’s Language

Plants Found to Speak Roundworm’s Language

Nematodes are tiny, ubiquitous roundworms that infect plant roots, causing more than $100 billion in crop damage worldwide each year. New research has found that plants manipulate the worms’ pheromones to repel infestations, providing insights into how farmers could...