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US (NY): Antonio DiTommaso named associate director of Cornell AES

Antonio DiTommaso, professor and outgoing head of the School of Integrative Plant Science's Soil and Crop Sciences Section, has been named associate director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (Cornell AES), effective July 1.

"I am delighted to welcome Toni to the Cornell AES team," said Margaret Smith, associate dean and director of Cornell AES. "He brings a deep appreciation for the importance of our work in addressing real-world problems in New York state and a demonstrated commitment to Cornell University's land-grant mission."

The associate director position at Cornell AES has been vacant since August 2020, when Smith was appointed director; she had previously served as associate director since 2008.

DiTommaso is a weed ecologist who develops sustainable practices to manage agricultural weeds and invasive plant species. He also studies climate change's impact on weed performance and distribution.

DiTommaso said he agreed to serve as associate director because Cornell AES has provided critical support for his research and teaching, throughout his 25 years at Cornell. Cornell AES manages nine research farms across New York and 127,000 square feet of greenhouse space, including most of the greenhouses on Cornell's Ithaca campus. They also support New York-focused research through federal funding distributed to state land-grant universities. Many land-grant universities use such funding to underwrite faculty salaries, and Cornell is relatively unique in reserving the great majority of those funds for research, DiTommaso said.

"We are looked at jealously by our colleagues who do not have access to those kinds of funds, because we can seed new research, test new ideas, develop data, and then compete more successfully for larger national grants. That's a big plus for Cornell," he said. "When I came here 25 years ago, the funding support and all the growth facilities really helped me start up my program. I have made use of and appreciated many of the Cornell AES facilities and funding opportunities."

DiTommaso has authored hundreds of journal articles and is co-author of two books: the second edition of Weeds of the Northeast, published by Cornell University Press, and the practical resource for growers, Manage Weeds on Your Farm, published by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. He's editor of the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management and is just finishing six years as head of the Soil and Crop Sciences Section. He has also served as director of the undergraduate Agricultural Sciences major for its first 15 years (2005-2020).

"Cornell AES is a valued part of the university and it's so critical to New York," DiTommaso said. "Some of the most innovative work starts with these little ideas in our facilities. And having these farms and facilities where growers can come learn about the latest research and seek help for the problems they're having is really important. This kind of practical, applied help that Cornell AES provides is something I believe in, and I'm excited to give back."


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