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Robert Seem

Bob Seem

Emeritus

219 Barton Laboratory
(315) 787-2388

I am an applied plant pathologist who specializes in the epidemiology, biology, and control of fruit and vegetable diseases with emphasis on the development of decision support systems ranging from simple models of disease to sophisticated simulation models. I also specialize in the application of precision agriculture technologies to plant disease management including high resolution environmental monitoring and weather forecasts.

Research Focus

My program specializes in the epidemiology, biology, and control of fruit and vegetable diseases with emphasis on the development of decision support systems ranging from simple models of disease to sophisticated simulation models. Investigations often focus on the role of the abiotic environment on disease development and management including the application of new weather forecasting and information management techniques. Special emphasis has been place on surface wetness duration theory and measurement. Recent research activities include the refinement of DMCast, a forecast model for grape downy mildew based on studies defining ontogenic resistance and spore viability. A mesoscale weather forecast model is also being enhanced to allow for regional estimates of disease risk at a spatial resolution of 200-300 m. The weather modeling techniques have opened up new research opportunities in plant biosecurity in the area of microbial forensics.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Agricultural economic development (AED) in it broadest view encompasses the support of the agriculture and food industries from new production technologies to workforce development. AED must position its industries within the global economy and among the typical high-technology enterprises. To do so, a region must pursue AED through collaboration, cooperation, skills development, market positioning and public-private partnerships. Our Finger Lakes New Knowledge Fusion project (NSF-funded) along with its leveraged funding partners has served as a catalyst to bring regional assets together in a collaborative network. Producers and processors have linked with technology projects and companies to address challenges in the agriculture and food industries. This includes the development of new technologies to rapidly identify pathogens, assess the water status of plants, and monitor the small-scale variations in fields, orchards and vineyards. We seek to commercialize these new technologies (three SBIR proposals were submitted) and our first spinout company was established in 2007, called Biosen, LLC, with a sensor product to detect preclinical mastitis in cows’ milk. We also reach out to schools in the Wayne/Finger Lakes BOCES to expose student potential careers in food, agriculture and technology. Our efforts include career cards (over 50,000 distributed in 2007 and 2008), programs to inform teachers about careers and skill requirements for jobs in food, agriculture and technology careers. Finally, the program helps communities learn about advances as well as risks of some of these new technologies. A well-informed community can make educated decisions about issues related to biotechnology, genetically modified organisms, and nanotechnology.

My outreach consists primarily of talking to secondary school students and junior and senior high school teachers about careers in biology and plant sciences