2013 B.S. Environmental Resources Engineering and Environmental Biology, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY
2016 M.S. Environmental Science (Concentration: Ecosystem Restoration), SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY
I am broadly interested in food systems and the intersection of ecology, agronomy, sociology, and economics as they define the sustainability of our food. More specifically, I am interested in exploring the potential for creating integrated agroecosystems that jointly benefit the environment, humans, and other non-human persons. These interests have led to research in the areas of ecological engineering, eco-cultural restoration, sustainable agriculture, agroecology, and environmental and social sustainability analysis. My long term goal is to advance understanding of what sustainable food production might be through the several perspectives provided by these and other related fields.
As a member of both the Weed Ecology and Management and Sustainable Cropping Systems Labs at Cornell University I am part of a project studying the development of perennial grain cropping systems in New York State. Perennial crops have many attractive qualities including potential for soil building and protection, fewer resources of time, machinery, and fuel utilized for tillage and replanting, more efficient utilization of water and nutrients, and diversification of cropping systems. The major drawback is that perennial field crops produce significantly less yield than their annual counterparts, reducing their economic viability for growers.
While plant breeders at many institutions continue in their efforts to produce high-yielding perennial cultivars, our project investigates other aspects of cropping and marketing that may benefit growers and thus increase the viability of perennial grain production in New York. In a 3-year field experiment at Musgrave Research Farm begun in August 2016 we are comparing the agronomy of two perennial grains, intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) and ACE-1 perennial cereal rye (Secale cereal), and annual wheat and barley. Specifically we will be measuring total biomass production, yield, effects on soil health, disease and pest pressure, energy consumption, and the impacts of intercropping with legume forage crops on the aforementioned indicators.
In addition to the field experiments, on-farm production trials will be conducted with three organic farmer partners and grain produced will be utilized by a partner bakery and brewery to evaluate the feasibility of using perennial grains in their products that target the niche market for locally-produced, environmentally-friendly food and beverage. It is our hope that this research will improve best management practices for perennial grain cropping while also providing New York’s small grain farmers with information on new opportunities to enhance the sustainability of their production systems without impacting their income.