Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Cornell Connects Research with the Farmers

Published: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Last Updated: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Dr. Mazourek brings organic plant breeding to N.Y. growers.

When Michael Mazourek, Ph.D. '08, was a child, he dreamed of becoming a farmer, a chef or an engineer. Little did he know he'd get a taste of all three professions at Cornell.

As the Calvin Noyes Keeney Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding, Mazourek spends some days planting crops for trials at the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station's research farms, others collaborating with chef Dan Barber on unusual breeds like the honeynut squash, and still others designing organic varieties to benefit New York state growers.

It was this work that earned Mazourek recognition by the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) this month as it marked the 150th anniversary of the land-grant university system with a series of profiles on young organic breeders, including Mazourek.

A native of Newfield, N.Y., Mazourek was inspired to better connect farmers with research when he came to Cornell as an assistant professor in 2009. "There were all of these cultivars developed at Cornell that had solutions to problems I had in my home garden for decades," he said. "I grew up one town over so I couldn't imagine why I had suffered for so long with powdery mildew when these folks had the cure."

Under his graduate adviser, Molly Jahn, Ph.D. '88, Mazourek worked on biochemical genetics of peppers, and quickly developed expertise in vegetable improvement and getting new products out to the local region.

"Professor Jahn was committed to bringing the products of her research to anyone who could benefit," Mazourek said. "I had a revelation about the importance of this work; I felt I had been training for it all my life."

This spark eventually led Mazourek to get involved with OSA through the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, a collaboration among researchers from four universities, OSA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that brings scientists together with organic farmers.

"Here in New York, there's no 'big organic' like in California so it's all the more important to get farmers involved in breeding," he said. "My goal is to connect people with seeds that will work for them. In central New York, that means things like broccoli that doesn't bolt, peppers that resist Phytophthora and butternut squash you can store in the winter."

While funds for agricultural research are increasingly scarce, Mazourek has been able to access grant opportunities through the USDA and its Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to help public plant cultivar developers meet these and other grower needs. With the funds, Mazourek deploys historic knowledge and new tools. Some projects - like helping the town of Irondequoit, N.Y., rediscover a melon breed lost to disease - involve combing through the dusty files of his predecessors. Others demand high-tech approaches like DNA sequencing and barcode readers in the field.

Regardless of approach, he sees this work as important not only for farmers but for the region as a whole. "Sustainable and organic systems contribute to the economy and well-being of our state and region. By definition [local food] has to be produced in our communities, and production in our communities means profits tend to stay in our communities and jobs grow locally," Mazourek said.
"It's one aspect of our economy that cannot be outsourced."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Tumor-suppressing Gene Lends Insight to Cancer Treatment
Researchers have found that delicate replication process derails if a gene named PTEN has mutated or is absent.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Synthetic Immune Organ Produces Antibodies
Cornell engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organ that produces antibodies and can be controlled in the lab, completely separate from a living organism.
Friday, June 12, 2015
On Planes, Savory Tomato Becomes Favored Flavor
Study shows the effect that airplane noise has on passengers' taste preferences.
Friday, May 15, 2015
$5.5M NSF Grant Aims to Improve Rice Crops with Genome Editing
Researchers to precisely target, cut, remove and replace DNA in a living cell to improve rice.
Friday, May 08, 2015
'Shield' Gives Tricky Proteins a New Identity
Solubilization of Integral Membrane Proteins with high Levels of Expression.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
DNA Safeguard May Be Key In Cancer Treatment
Cornell researchers have developed a new technique to understand the actions of key proteins required for cancer cells to proliferate.
Monday, March 09, 2015
A ‘STAR’ is Born: Engineers Devise Genetic 'On' Switch
A new “on” switch to control gene expression has been developed by Cornell scientists.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Bacteria Be Gone!
New technology keeps bacteria from sticking to surfaces.
Monday, January 19, 2015
On the Environmental Trail of Food Pathogens
Learning where Listeria dwells can aid the search for other food pathogens.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Chemists Show That ALS is a Protein Aggregation Disease
Using a technique that illuminates subtle changes in individual proteins, chemistry researchers at Cornell have uncovered new insight into the underlying causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Genetics Used to Improve Plants for Bioenergy
An upcoming genetics investigation into the symbiotic association between soil fungi and feedstock plants for bioenergy production could lead to more efficient uptake of nutrients, which would help limit the need for expensive and polluting fertilizers.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Computer Model Reveals Cancer's Energy Source
Findings focused on the energy-making process in cancer cells known as the Warburg Effect.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A New Player in Lipid Metabolism Discovered
Specially engineered mice gained no weight, and normal counterparts became obese on the same high-fat, obesity-inducing Western diet.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Ingested Nanoparticles May Damage Liver
Although nanoparticles in food, sunscreen and other everyday products have many benefits, researchers from Cornell are finding that at certain doses, the particles might cause human organ damage.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Foodborne Pathogen Detection Speeds Up Dramatically
Next-generation sequencing techniques allow rapidly identification of strains of salmonella, quickening responses to potential outbreaks.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
Revolutionary Technologies Developed to Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients
Breath test to detect lung cancer brings oxygen directly to the wound.
NIH Supports New Studies to Find Alzheimer’s Biomarkers in Down Syndrome
Initiative will track dementia onset, progress in Down syndrome volunteers.
Dementia Linked to Deficient DNA Repair
Mutant forms of breast cancer factor 1 (BRCA1) are associated with breast and ovarian cancers but according to new findings, in the brain the normal BRCA1 gene product may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Using Drug-Susceptible Parasites to Fight Drug Resistance
Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a model for evaluating a potential new strategy in the fight against drug-resistant diseases.
Boosting Breast Cancer Treatment
To more efficiently treat breast cancer, scientists have been researching molecules that selectively bind to cancer cells and deliver a substance that can kill the tumor cells, for several years.
New Gene Map Reveals Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel
Team of researchers switches off almost 18,000 genes
New Discovery Sheds Light on Disease Risk
Gaps between genes interact to influence the risk of acquiring disease.
How Cells ‘Climb’ to Build Fruit Fly Tracheas
Mipp1 protein helps cells sprout “fingers” for gripping.
Research Finding Could Lead to Targeted Therapies for IBD
Findings published online in Cell Reports.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos