2019-present Professor and Chair, Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture
1986–present Controlled Environment and Ornamental and Crop Production Consultant
2007-2019 Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota.
2010-2017 Elected Citywide Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner (2 terms; 8 years)
1997–2007 Associate Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota.
2002-2005 Elected Citywide Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Commissioner (1 term; 4 years)
1989-1996 Assistant Professor, Department of Horticultural Science, University of Minnesota.
1983–1989 Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University.
1983-1989 Owner, Erwin Landscaping Service (Lansing, MI)
1976-1983 Landscaper, Nursery Manager, County Line Landscape Nursery (Harleysville, PA).
My research efforts revolve around:
- 1) the environmental physiology of thermomorphogenesis and high temperature effects on flowering,
- 2) on environmental manipulation and production strategies in controlled environments to maximize photosynthesis and yield, reduce production time, increase sales and reduce chemical, energy and labor inputs in ornamental and greenhouse vegetable production,
- 3) identification of and development of production strategies for new heat/drought tolerant ornamental crops (especially cacti and succulents), and
- 4) environmental and microbial impacts on edible crops in controlled environment systems (CEA) to increase yield and pest and disease tolerance.
My work showed diurnal temperature fluctuations affect plant morphogenesis broadly and that ABA is associated with and high temperature tolerance in flowering in Arabidopsis and tomato.
As part of that work we developed novel temperature management techniques (DIF, DROP, DIP) to reduce chemical growth retardant use and production strategies to reduce pesticide/fungicide application.
More recently, we developed lighting/temperature strategies to schedule flowering to maximize sales.
Temperature and lighting standards we developed are now being used to maximize leafy green and herb nutritional value and yield (photosynthesis) in controlled environment production systems.
Current work focuses on UV-A, -B and -C light effects on nutritional value of edible crops, post harvest life of ornamental crops and pest and disease proliferation.
My undergraduate teaching efforts primarily focus on using experiential learning utilizing techniques grounded in science to teach horticulture crop production techniques in controlled environment systems.
As part of that work I teach coursework focusing on hydroponic and/or aquaponics systems in controlled environment agricultural systems utilizing new LED lighting technologies.
My most recent teaching efforts focus on two courses
- ‘Growing the Guilty Pleasures’, and
- ‘Backyard Farmer: The Science to Food Production and Preservation’
with appeal to a more general audience and to attract non-majors to the plant sciences.
My graduate teaching efforts have focused on teaching whole plant photosynthesis, flowering physiology, and consulting methods.
My extension program is the only program that focuses on 1) controlled environment agriculture, 2) greenhouse production of ornamental and edible crops, and 3) outdoor ornamental crop production in North America. As such, I strive to be a national, regional and local extension resource. All extension articles and recent presentations can be found on my website: http://www.plantgrower.org .
My extension activities are grounded in a strong belief in the importance of the Lang-Grant mission to Maryland residents and industry as well as the regional and national industries.
I use a broad array of communication and outreach tools to address industry needs, however, my outreach efforts are increasingly web-based (websites, video conferencing, email, etc.). These tools allow for outreach to growers on the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland as well as a broader national and international audience.
Refereed Journal Articles (total: 64)
Published Conference Proceedings