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Contact Information:

Cornell University

175 Biotechnology Building

Ithaca, NY 14853


Email: or


Nick LePak

Field Manager

Research Interests:


As an Agricultural Research Science (ARS) technician and field manager for the Buckler group since 2005, it has been my responsibility to keep the field nurseries and greenhouse/chamber projects moving along. Over the course of this time, I've been fortunate to have been able to help many up and coming scientists with their field and greenhouse trials.

As new technologies arises and genotyping methods are developed with costs being reduced over time, taking robust phenotypic measurements will become the limiting factor in the ability to map traits. While using sensors to measure plant traits can assist in identifying key regions of the genome that could prove useful in terms of breeding, commercial agriculture continues to move towards precision agriculture by means of sensors in an effort to combat field variation. Methods like variable rate fertilizer as well as herbicide and others pesticide applications to optimize rates on the fly can have a great effect on reducing field inputs and our agricultural footprint.

In 2007, members of the group began working on a method to aerially measure phenotypic traits in a fast and accurate manner. We were unsuccessful in this early attempt, but technology has changed dramatically since then. Former Cornell Plant Breeding PhD students Mike Gore and Jesse Poland continued with these efforts in various capacities and have developed a workshop based on some of their accomplishments emphasizing this effort at high-throughput phenotyping. In 2018, our group began to team up a with a company as an early adopter to test phenotyping capabilities with a field rover.

Following our former lab manager’s lead (Denise Costich), we have assembled a diverse panel of Tripsacum sp. from which we've created F1 crosses between northern and southern locations and species and screens of the F2 progeny have been made in an attempt to identify genomic regions related to cold or stress tolerance. Our group has somewhat recently begun to team up with Elisabeth Kellogg at the Danforth Center, as well as others, to continue working on identifying diversity and updating systematics of species in the Andropogoneae tribe.

As a side project in the maize, I am interested in identifying regions of resistance/tolerance to the Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) and have developed several inbred and hybrid lines. 


•    B.S. in Agronomy, Cobleskill University, Cobleskill, NY


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