Dr. Gene Giacomelli has a dream to grow veggies on the moon. Gene has dedicated his research at the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) at the University of Arizona in Tucson to designing a lunar greenhouse that will enable astronauts to grow food in outer space. As a student of the UofA’s Greenhouse Tomato workshop I was given the opportunity to visit Gene’s Lunar Greenhouse. Walking into the room and first seeing the Lunar Greenhouse gave me goosebumps. Being that close to something that important to the future of space exploration gave me an adrenaline rush of inspiration. Gene’s work and the work of others at NASA and around the US will enable us one day to live on another planet. Thanks to Gene we are one step closer to that dream.
Ricardo Hernandez’s story is an inspirational journey of immigration, dedication, perseverance, and hard work that continues to shine light on unknown frontiers in horticulture. His story is exceptional.
Ricardo was born in the small town of Valle de Allende, Chihuahua, Mexico (2010 population of 4,185) and grew up in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. His strong family was supportive of his dreams for higher education and encouraged him to pursue his passion.
Ricardo immigrated to the United States of America in 2005 and began his post-graduate education at New Mexico State University where he earned his B.S. degree in Agriculture. Texas A&M was his next destination where he earned a M.S. degree in Biological Control and Integrated Pest Management. Ricardo then joined Dr. Chieri Kubota’s program at the University of Arizona where he excelled at Plant Physiology and Controlled Environment Agriculture with minors in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering and Entrepreneurship to become Dr. Ricardo Hernandez. This accomplishment is not an easy thing to do.
La historia de Ricardo Hernández es un viaje inspirador de inmigración, dedicación, perseverancia y trabajo duro que continúa iluminando las fronteras desconocidas de la horticultura. Su historia es excepcional.
Ricardo nació en el pequeño pueblo de Valle de Allende, Chihuahua, México (población 2010 de 4,185) y creció en Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Su fuerte familia apoyó sus sueños de una educación superior y lo animó a perseguir su pasión.
Ricardo emigró a los Estados Unidos de América en 2005 y comenzó su educación de posgrado en la Universidad Estatal de Nuevo México, donde obtuvo su B.S. grado en Agricultura. Texas A & M era su próximo destino donde obtuvo un M.S. Licenciatura en Control Biológico y Manejo Integrado de Plagas. Ricardo luego se unió al programa del Dr. Chieri Kubota en la Universidad de Arizona donde se destacó en Fisiología de Plantas y Agricultura Ambiental Controlada con menores en Agricultura e Ingeniería de Biosistemas y Emprendimiento para convertirse en el Dr. Ricardo Hernández. Este logro no es algo fácil de hacer.
Today, Dr. Ricardo Hernandez is now a U.S. citizen and assistant professor at North Carolina State University, one of the premier horticulture universities in the United States. Ricardo and his wife, Liliana, are teaching their two beautiful children, Samuel and Santiago, the same character traits that have enabled them to become a success in what they do and how they live their lives.
Ricardo’s humble journey is proof of the positive impact of immigration and that hard work and determination will lead to great rewards. We are fortunate that Ricardo took those first steps onto U.S. soil and into our profession.
In this “Voices of Horticulture” segment, Dr. Ricardo Hernandez explains some of his work at North Carolina State University on tomato and cucumber transplant response to light quality.
Hoy, el Dr. Ricardo Hernández es ahora ciudadano de los Estados Unidos y profesor asistente en la Universidad Estatal de Carolina del Norte, una de las principales universidades de horticultura de los Estados Unidos. Ricardo y su esposa, Liliana, están enseñando a sus dos hermosos hijos, Samuel y Santiago, los mismos rasgos de carácter que les han permitido convertirse en un éxito en lo que hacen y en cómo viven sus vidas.
El viaje humilde de Ricardo es una prueba del impacto positivo de la inmigración y de que el trabajo duro y la determinación llevarán a grandes recompensas. Tenemos la bendición de que Ricardo dio los primeros pasos en el suelo de los Estados Unidos y en nuestra profesión.
En este segmento de “Voces de horticultura”, el Dr. Ricardo Hernández explica parte de su trabajo en la Universidad Estatal de Carolina del Norte sobre la respuesta del trasplante de tomate y pepino a la calidad de la luz.
Dr. Alex Krichevsky’s Glow in Dark Plant and the Plant Infirmary
Dr. Alex Krichevsky is an eclectic plant scientist with a penchant for entrepreneurialism. Dr. Alex was born in the Soviet Union and began his formal education in Israel. He immigrated to the United States and after a few stints in academia in New York he found his roots in St. Louis where he created two unique plant centric businesses. The first business he started, now called Gleaux, centers around his invention – the world’s first glow in the dark plant. Alex’s new company, The Plant Infirmary, is a molecular plant diagnostic lab for the ornamental private sector. Dr. Alex talks with me briefly about BioGlow and The Plant Infirmary.
Ben Bylsma, production manager at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Food Innovation Center is helping chef’s become growers. The Kalamazoo Valley Healthy Neighborhoods Food Innovation Center is unique mix of culinary arts, health care and horticulture is evolving in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Great State of Michigan and private donors have invested $46.1M to construct a campus dedicated to improving the health and well-being of residents through improved nutrition and diet. Culinary students learn how to grow food as well as how to prepare and cook food. The Food Innovation Center will focus on sustainable food systems, food safety essentials, winter crop production, and food industry career planning. The Food Innovation Center features classrooms and labs, an indoor hydroponic grow room, an instructional greenhouse, and a native soil garden. Ben Bylsma and KVCC are innovating food our food system. Ben talks with me briefly about food as the core to hour health and what the Food Innovation Center is doing right now.
Dr. Ep is uber cool from the Netherlands. Ep is a well know researcher and has written books on Tomato Greenhouse Production and Greenhouse Crop Physiology. You can find his books on Amazon. Ep has a great sense of humor and is a botanical fashion trend setter. In our brief conversation, Ep talks about the ISHS Light in Hort Symposium and the influence of light on rose bud break.
Our American Veterans have bravely served and protected our nation, our freedom and our people. Although we can never repay them for what they have done we can help them continue their journey after serving our country. Rutgers University’s V.E.T.S. program is a creative effort where a community has come together to help our American Veterans cope with life after the military. Rutgers University, the City of Newark, the Metropolitan Baptist Church, and the Willing Heart Community Care Center have joined forces to train, educate, and inspire our American Veterans. The American Veterans in the program are taught horticulture skills and are getting involved in the Newark community. In the classroom, unemployed Veterans are taught the needed skills to get back to work and the hands-on part of the program gives them the needed experience and confidence. The Veterans grow vegetables aquaponically in the V.E.T.S. greenhouse and also garden in soil in at-risk neighbors. While helping others grow food they also teach the citizens how to enjoy healthy eating and grow their own produce. Rashad Radyun, the Rutgers V.E.T.S. coordinator talks with me briefly about this successful and inspiring community effort. For more information please visit the Rutgers V.E.T.S. program site: http://www.rutgersvets.org
Dean Kopsell, University of Tennessee
Eating marigold petals
Dr. Dean Kopsell talks about why we should eat marigold petals and what his students found to be the best red to blue ratio for peak carotenoid concentrations.
Dean is a professor at the University of Tennessee and has studied an eclectic range of crops including Arabidopsis, basil, broccoli, cilantro, kale, lettuce, microgreens, onions, purslane, spinach, squash, turfgrass, and tomatoes.
1. Dean’s UT url:
2. Selected work of Dean Kopsell:
3. Dean’s Social Media:
Dean on Twitter: @UTPhytonut
2015 ASHS Undergrad. Educator Award winner Dr. David Kopsell pictured with his older, less talented brother. pic.twitter.com/6Wad96QAVs
Dr. Gioia Massa, “Veggie” Scientist at the Kennedy Space Station, NASA
“NASA’s Veggie and Space Kids”
Dr. Gioia Massa is a plant scientist in NASA’s Veggie program which aims to grow plants in the International Space Station (ISS). Gioia is a Future Farmers of America (FFA) alumni and has grown her early love for plants to a career that is now helping us explore space and preparing humans for space travel. Her professional talks are captivating, inspirational, mind-boggling and always end up giving me goosebumps. She talks with me briefly about NASA’s “Veggie” program on the ISS and how kids on earth are being inspired to reach for the stars.
Dr. Frits Went and the Pursuit of the McCree Curve
Dr. Bruce Bugbee of Utah State University was the opening speaker at the 2016 International Society for Horticulture Science Symposium on Light in Horticulture. Dr. Bugbee talks candidly with me about how understanding history can give us a keen insight into today’s botanical questions about light and the outlook of our future.
For more information on Dr. Bugbee’s program visit these sites: