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Research Faculty

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Portrait Name & Summary
Hamid Ashrafi

Dr. Hamid Ashrafi, Assistant Professor, Blueberry Breeding and Genetics. Applied research program focuses on molecular breeding through marker assisted selection, genetic mapping, QTL analysis, bioinformatics and statistical genomics.

Roger Batts Mr. Roger B. Batts, Field Research Director, NC State IR-4 Field Research Center. Conducts field residue trials and herbicide screening trials to support pesticide registrations for fruits, vegetables and other minor/specialty crops.
Dr. Ben Bergmann Dr. Ben Bergmann, Research Associate; Floriculture research on cut flowers postharvest challenges, especially in regard to Botrytis cinerea susceptibility and ethylene sensitivity.
Sylvia Blankenship Dr. Sylvia M. Blankenship, Professor. Research focuses on postharvest physiology of apples, including ethylene physiology and biochemistry, and ripening and other changes of senescence. Looks at skin adhesion and postharvest handling in sweetpotatoes also research topics.
Jim Burton Dr. James D. Burton, Associate Professor. Research focus on natural products and nutaceuticals, specifically factors that regulate the biosynthesis of DIBOA and other allelochemical with a goal toward developing a rye cover cropping management system that will provide consistent and effective weed control.
Danesha Carley Danesha Carley, Assistant Professor. Director for the Southern IPM Center. Her research, academic, and outreach programs focus on Sustainable Managed Landscapes. Recent projects include the restoration of historic Pinehurst No. 2 Golf Course, pollinator protection and habitat conservation, and water-stress tolerance in turfgrass and ornamental shrubs. She is also the NC IPM Coordinator and manages the EIP grant program for North Carolina.
Mark Clough Mr. Mark E. Clough, Researcher. Research focus is on Irish (white) potato production, breeding and genetics, specifically on developing high quality potatoes adapted to North Carolina growing conditions. Mark is based at the Vernon G. James Research & Extension Center.
Steve Clouse Dr. Steven D. Clouse, Professor. Research focus is on plant molecular biology and biochemistry, and applications to horticultural crops.  Research emphases include regulation, plant gene expression during development; molecular mechanisms, plant hormone action, particularly brassinosteroids; functional genomics and proteomics; function, receptor kinases, plant signal transduction.
Nancy Creamer Dr. Nancy G. Creamer, Professor. Director, Center for Environmental Farming Systems.  Research focus on  long-term comparative farming systems trials, organic transition strategies, using winter and summer cover crops in vegetable production systems, determining optimum cover crop mixtures, allelopathic suppression of weeds, and organic vegetable production.
Jeanine Davis

Dr. Jeanine M. Davis, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist. Located at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River, Dr. Davis helps farmers improve sustainability and profitability of their farms by optimizing organic production systems, introducing and developing new crops, and improving the sustainability of commercial vegetable production systems. Particular focus is on NC medicinal herbs

John Dole Dr. John M. Dole, CALS Interim Associate Dean and Director for Academic Programs; Floriculture Professor. Conducts research primarily on cut flowers (new cultivar evaluations, production studies, postharvest experiments, and marketing analysis), poinsettias, and rooted and unrooted cuttings (production and postharvest handling, in cooperation with Jim Faust).
Rebecca Dunning Dr. Rebecca Dunning, Assistant Professor. Conducts socioeconomic research and project evaluation and provides leadership and support for food systems work at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.
Barbara Fair Dr. Barbara Fair, Associate Professor. Research concentration in soil and water issues in the landscape and field trials directed at specific genera.
Gina Fernandez Dr. Gina E. Fernandez, Professor. Conducts research on small fruits in North Carolina.  Leads Rubus (raspberry and blackberry) breeding program. Seeks to grow the blackberry and respberry industries through small fruit program Team Rubus.
Bill Fonteno Dr. William C. Fonteno, Professor. Director, Horticultural Substrates Laboratory.  Research focus on floriculture and plant-soil-water-nutrition relations of container-grown crops.  Areas of interst include physical properties of horticultural substrates, water use and delivery systems, and computer modeling of aeration and drainage in horticultural substrates.  
Chris Gunter
Dr. Chris C. Gunter, Associate Professor. Specializes in vegetable production for the commercial vegetable industry in North Carolina, working with commercial vegetable growers to maintain a high quality of life through the use of integrated, economical and environmentally sound production practices.  His main emphasis is with the Solanaceous (tomato, pepper) and Cruciferous (cabbage, broccoli) cropping systems.
Ricardo Hernandez Dr. Ricardo Hernandez, Assistant Professor, focused on sustainable horticultural energy management, light manipulation for horticultural plants growth and development, and controlled environment horticulture (greenhouse, vertical farm).
Massimo Iorizzo Dr. Massimo Iorizzo, Assistant Professor, research focuses on genetics, genomics, germplasm improvement and breeding of small fruits (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.) and vegetable crops. He researches the health-promoting phytoactive compounds inherent in fruits and vegetables, while also investigating strategies for selecting, concentrating and preserving these phytochemicals.
Brian Jackson Mr. Brian E. Jackson, Associate Professor. Research areas are nursery production and use and development of wood substrates as alternatives for pine bark and peat moss for horticultural crop production.
Katie Jennings Dr. Katie M. Jennings, Assistant Professor. Research area is weed management in small fruits and vegetables.  Focus on herbicide efficacy and carryover, weed/crop competition, weed biology, and field residue studies.
Tom Kon Dr. Tom Kon, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist. Serves the southeastern apple industry to address technological needs. Research interests include: crop load and canopy management, pruning and training systems, rootstock evaluations, mechanization of orchard practices, pre-harvest drop control, and cultural/chemical practices to improve fruit quality.
Julia Kornegay Dr. Julia L. Kornegay, Professor and Director of Graduate Programs. Research focus is on breeding and selection of annual and herbaceous perennials with attractive floral characteristic, good plant architecture, enhanced postharvest vase life, adapted to local growing environments, and non-invasive, primarily for cut flower production inthe southeast US.
Sergei Krasnyanski Dr. Sergei R. Krasnyanski, Senior Researcher, Director, NCSU Plant Transformation Laboratory. Research collaboration programs and consulting on plant tissue culture and plant transformation training. Aim is to improve existing plant regeneration/transformation protocols of economically important crops. Develops new plant transformation systems that will become available in the public domain.
Helen Kraus
Dr. Helen T. Kraus, Undergraduate Coordinator and Associate Professor. Research interests include improving irrigation and fertilizer efficiency and utilization of composts in container-grown ornamental plant production, nutrition of woody and herbaceous perennial ornamental plants and substrate and plant selections for rain gardens.
Anthony Lebude Dr. Anthony LeBude, Associate Professor and Nursery Extension Specialist. Research focus is on developing new technologies for growers to understand and implement effective best management practices to optimize ecosystem services; and evaluating new plant introductions and cultivars for adaptation to the southeast.
no photo available Mr. Wayne E. Mitchem, Research and Extension Associate. Research areas are herbicide screening, fruit crops and weed/crop interactions relating to critical weed-free periods for fruit.
Joe Neal Dr. Joseph C. Neal, Professor and Departmental Extension Leader. Research interests include development of effective and environmentally sound weed management strategies for nursery crops and landscapes, biology and management of recently introduced weeds, and bio-based alternatives to traditional herbicides including plant pathogens and natural products for weed control.
Bode Olukolu Dr. Bode Olukolu, Assistant Professor; Research encompass molecular genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and quantitative genetics. Dr. Olukolu’s research interests encompass molecular genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and quantitative genetics. By integrating quantitative genetics and the more recent genomic technologies, he seeks to understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms controlling important traits. This approach aims to facilitate more targeted and rapid strategies for crop improvement.
Dillip Panthee

Dr. Dilip R. Panthee, Associate Professor. Fresh market tomato breeding program emphasizes the development of improved cultivars adapted to production in North Carolina and surrounding areas. Currently, emphasis is on improving disease resistance, stress tolerance and fruit quality using conventional and molecular breeding approach.

Mike Parker Dr. Michael L. Parker, Associate Professor. Research areas: apple rootstocks, peaches and alternative tree fruit crops, primarily applied in nature.  Areas of interest:  cultural management strategies, rootstock performance in the southeast, peach thinning, planting systems and orchard floor management.
Ken Pecota Mr. Kenneth V. Pecota, Researcher. Research emphasis is on developing high quality sweetpotatoes adapted to North Carolina's growing conditions.
Penelope Perkins-Veazie
Dr. Penelope M. Perkins-Veazie, Professor. Research areas cover farm to fork fresh storage, quality, food safety, and phytonutrient content of fresh or minimally processed fruits and vegetables.  Most research is in areas of caneberry shelf life and watermelon uses as phytonutrient sources for improving human health.
Tom Ranney Dr. Thomas G. Ranney, Professor. Research areas are development of new nursery and bioenergy crops with greater adaptability, pest resistance, and commercial potential; enhancement of production efficiency and quality of crops; performance of basic research in plant science, cytogenetics, and reproductive biology.
Jonathan Schultheis Dr. Jonathan R. Schultheis, Professor and Departmental Extension Leader. Research focus is developing and optimizing cultural practices for commercial production of vegetables. Interests include stand establishment, plasticulture, developing new alternative crops, drip irrigation, nutrition, and seed physiology.  Crop emphasis is sweetpotato and cucurbits.
Sara Spayd

Dr. Sara E. Spayd, Professor. Focus is working with North Carolina grape industry with cultivars and cultural practices to optimize fruit quality. Research interests include fruit composition and quality as affected by vineyard management practices.

Mark Weathington Mr. Mark Weathington, Director, JC Raulston Arboretum. Collects, propagates, and grows plants from around the world at the JC Raulston Arboretum in search of superior plants to diversify the American landscape.  Research includes landscape trials of novel plant material and propagation studies.
Dr. Todd C. Wehner Dr. Todd C. Wehner, Professor. Responsibilities include teaching plant breeding methods, distance education and integrated breeding databases. Research interest focus on improved selection methods; recurrent selection for fruit yield, earliness and quality; resistance to chilling, nematodes, anthracnose, belly rot, gummy stem blight and downy mildew; and germplasm evaluation to provide industry with new traits for the development of improved cultivars.
Dennis Werner

Dr. Dennis J. Werner, JC Raulston Distinguished Professor. His research efforts are focused on breeding and genetics of woody ornamentals, with emphasis on development of drought tolerant and novel landscape cultivars of Cercis and dwarf, sterile cultivars of Buddleja.  Genetic studies are focused on the inheritance of plant architecture, leaf color, and variegation in Cercis. 

Brian Whipker
Dr. Brian E. Whipker, Interim Assistant Department Head and Professor. Research interests include diagnostics, plant nutrition, water quality, plant growth regulators and economics. Extension specialization includes providing production information and diagnostic services to commercial greenhouse floriculture operations.
John Williamson Dr. John D. Williamson, Associate Professor. Research areas include  molecular mechanisms of plant stress responses, use of biotechnology in nontraditional breeding of crops with increased stress tolerance.  Current focus:  the role of mannitol in salt tolerance and pathogen resistance.
Craig Yencho Dr. G. Craig Yencho, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Program Leader Sweetpotato and Potato Breeding and Genetics Programs. Research projects involve genetic mapping of important traits in potato and sweetpotato; plant resistance to insects and pathogens; the development of value-added products including fries, chips, and natural colorants from potato and sweetpotato; the development of ornamental sweetpotatoes for the ornamental industries; and farmer participatroy breeding and international agriculture, primarily in eastern Africa.

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