Our Mission

News from the lab

  • Advance horticultural science through basic and applied research. By combining basic and applied research, we strive to understand both how and why plants respond in certain ways.
  • Support the horticulture industry by developing new sustainable and economical production practices.
  • Train the next generation of horticultural scientists. Graduate education is a critical part of what we do. A steady stream of new scientists is needed to keep horticultural science vibrant. Our former lab members now work in academia (Korea University, Purdue University, University of Georgia, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts, University of New Hampshire, Texas A&M University), state agencies, and industry (Augusta National Golf Course, Corteva, Quality Analytical Laboratories).

The research in the Horticultural Physiology Lab currently has two focus areas:

Optimizing the cost-effectiveness of lighting in controlled environment agriculture. The electricity costs of horticultural lighting are estimated to be $600,000,000/year in the US alone. We aim to use smarter lighting control approaches to manipulate light spectrum and intensity to optimize crop growth and quality and maximize the return on investment of horticultural lighting. For more information on our lighting work, please visit www.hortlamp.org. LAMP is a USDS-NIFA-SCRI funded project that brings together a transdisciplinary team (horticulture, agricultural economics, engineering, energy informatics, and impact assessment). Together, we can do things that none of us could do by ourselves.

Watch as Dr. Marc van Iersel explain his philosophy regarding horticultural lighting in this seminar presented at Utah State University.

Canopy imaging to monitor plant growth and stress. Non-destructive methods to monitor plant growth can accurately detect how plants respond to growing conditions. In addition to using regular RGB (and near infra-red) images, we take advantage of the fact that leaves fluoresce. This fluorescence can be photographed. This same technique also is a powerful method to detect various stresses.

Our research is supported by the federal government, lighting companies, and industry organizations. A big thank you to all sponsors for supporting our work!