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Tim Setter


(607) 255-1701

Tim Setter is Professor in the Soil and Crop Science Section, with joint membership in the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section; both sections are in the School of Integrative Plant Science. He currently collaborates with researchers at national institutes in Nigeria (NRCRI), Uganda (NaCRRI) and Tanzania (TARI), and at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on the NEXTGEN cassava project, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of the Cornell Graduate Faculties in the Field of Crop and Soil Sciences and in Plant Biology.

Research Focus

My research seeks better understanding of the underlying biology of drought stress response in cassava, maize and other grain crops, the regulatory systems for flowering in cassava, and better methods to screen breeding germplasm for improved responses to environmental stresses. In cassava we are elucidating responses to environmental factors such as photoperiod and temperature, and to plant growth regulators, on flower initiation and seed/fruit development. In maize, we focus on reproductive and kernel development and associated yield-determining processes. These studies seek to identify traits that could serve as targets for selection in breeding programs and QTL/marker assisted selection strategies. We use transcript profiling to quantify gene expression, collaborate with quantitative geneticists and breeders on mapping genetic loci, and seek ways to improve crop cultivars so farmers in drought-prone areas of the world can achieve food security.

Teaching Focus

I teach courses at the undergraduate and graduate level on crop science and crop physiology. Field Crop Systems (PLSCS 2110/4050) is an introduction to the principles of field-crop production of food, feed, fiber and bioenergy, emphasizing the most important crop species and their morphological and growth characteristics essential to environmental adaptation and response to management. Physiology And Ecology Of Crop Yield (PLSCS 4130) examines the biological processes involved in the conversion of solar energy into harvested plant products and the environmental constraints on crop productivity. Acclimation responses and genetic adaptation are examined for key environmental factors. Students gain an understanding of the underlying basis of crop performance in diverse environments and identify processes which are in need of improvement through improved genetics and management.

Awards and Honors

  • Fellow, Crop Science Society of America (2015) Crop Science Society of America

Selected Publications

Journal Publications