Cornell Climate Smart Farming Team


CSF Extension Team: A Trusted Resource for Farmers

Cornell’s Climate Smart Farming (CSF) Extension Team gives New York farmers access to top Extension specialists with the particular expertise to help manage the risks posed by increasing extreme weather, climate variability and long-term change.  Working in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension and climate change and agriculture specialists at Cornell, the team draws on the latest science to answer growers’ questions about changes they can make to their management practices that will help increase resiliency and farm sustainability. Contact the specific team members below by email or phone.

To reach the Cornell CSF Extension team, contact the specific team members below by email or phone.

Soils & Agricultural Stewardship

Deborah Aller is the Agricultural Stewardship Specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, where she oversees the development, coordination, and implementation of the Agricultural Stewardship Program. This program works in conjunction with numerous agricultural and environmental partner organizations to provide the commercial horticultural and agricultural industries a comprehensive program of research, education, and on-farm demonstration projects to reduce nutrient and pesticide loading from agricultural lands to the ground and surface waters of Suffolk County. She focuses on bringing new technologies and resources to farmers to increase the adoption of best management practices including soil health principles and integrated pest management strategies. Debbie earned her M.Sc. in Environmental Science and International Development from the University of Edinburgh and Ph.D. in Soil Science and Environmental Science from Iowa State University.
Email: | Phone: (631) 727-3595 x 24

Vegetables & Weed Management

Elizabeth Buck is the Fresh Market Vegetable Specialist for the western part of the Cornell Vegetable Program region. Elizabeth offers diversified vegetable experience in the areas of nutritional management, disease control, variety evaluation, surveying, and scouting. She earned a B.S. in Plant Sciences and Agricultural Sciences from Cornell, and an M.S. from the University of Guelph, where she focused on integrated weed management practices in vegetable crops.
Email: | Phone: (585) 406-3419

Dairy Management

Lindsay Ferlito is a dairy specialist with the CCE North Country Regional Ag Team, where she advises the region’s numerous large dairy farmers about dairy management issues, animal welfare, comfort, feeding, and climate adaptation and mitigation on the dairy farm. Lindsay previously worked as a research assistant at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Dairy Education and Research Centre, and as an intern at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and received her B.S. in Animal Biology and her M.S. in Animal Science from UBC – where her thesis focused on dairy cattle welfare and feeding behavior. Email: | Phone: 607-592-0290

Laura McDermott

Small Fruit & Vegetables

Laura McDermott is a regional extension specialist in small fruit production for the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program, who currently serves 17 counties in the Route 87 corridor, where she concentrates on small fruit production and fresh market vegetable production. Her current research projects include low-tunnel strawberry production, resistance management education, and invasive species management. In her 25 years with the Extension system, she has also amassed experience with all types of horticulture, including maple, forestry, and consumer horticulture, and with commercial fruit and vegetable farmer education. A native of Stillwater, New York, she holds a B.S. in plant protection from Cornell University and an M.S. in fruit crops from the University of Florida.
Email: | Phone: (518) 746-2562


Small Fruit, Viticulture, IPM, & Farmworkers

Jim O’Connell has worked as a Senior Agricultural Resource Educator for Ulster County for over 7 years. During that time, he has learned a lot about the Hudson Valley small fruit industry and the burgeoning wine industry. Jim has helped to educate berry growers about spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) and more recently spotted lanternfly (SLF). He has also worked with grape growers to help them make informed decisions on good site selection and best management practices for their vineyards. Jim’s current focus is education in the areas of climate change, integrated pest management and farmworker programming. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Horticulture from the University of New Hampshire and a Master of Science in Plant and Soil Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Email: | Phone: 845-340-3990


Field Crops & Soil Health

Kitty O’Neil works to improve the yield and production efficiency of field crops and forages – a goal that requires smart crop management and a keen understanding of climate-related risks and long-term soil health.  A field crops and soils specialist, she leads the North New York field crops team, which designs crop and soil management programs to serve the region’s farms. Kitty’s research has included cropping systems and the effects of soil amendments and cover crops on soil health on potato farms.  She earned a B.S. in animal science from Cornell University, an M.S. in animal nutrition and plant biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in sustainable plant and soil cropping systems, both from Michigan State University.
Email: | Phone: 315-379-9192.

On Campus CSF Team

Toby R. Ault is an Associate Professor in the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department at Cornell University. His research is related to emergent climate risks, including 1) estimating the risk of prolonged drought under climate change; 2) understanding the dynamics of seasonality, particularly the onset of spring; and 3) characterizing variations in the Tropical Pacific on timescales of decades to centuries, and their influence on global climate. Toby received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, and he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Brian N. Belcher is the Climate Applications Developer working with the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell. Brian participated in the development of Decision Support Tools available on the Climate Smart Farming web site since its inception. Since beginning his career at Cornell in 1999, he has gained extensive experience in applied climatology, weather and climate modeling, Linux system administration, applications programming and all aspects of efficient scientific computing. Brian received his B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences from Cornell, and his M.S. in Meteorology from Texas A&M University. Email:

Allison M. Chatrchyan is a Sr. Research Associate in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and leads the Cornell Climate Smart Solutions Program, and the Cornell Climate Smart Farming Program. She facilitates interdisciplinary research and Extension teams and helps develop resources and tools for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Allison previously worked for CCE Dutchess County for seven years. A native of Hamilton, NY, she received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Maryland in College Park, and her B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Email: | Phone: 607-254-8808.

Art DeGaetano is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University, and Director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC). His research interests include applied climatology, which involves the development of methods and data sets that provide climatological information to decision-makers in a variety of fields; modeling climate influences on man-made and biological systems, documenting observed variations in the climate system; improving climate data quality; and assessing climate impacts. Art received an interdisciplinary Ph.D. focusing on Climatology and Horticulture from Rutgers University. Email:

Mike Hoffmann is an Emeritus Professor of Entomology at Cornell University and former Executive Director of the Cornell Institute for Climate Smart Solutions. He helps coordinate programs and communicates to a wide range of audiences the challenges and opportunities that come with a changing climate, and builds partnerships among public and private organizations. Mike was previously the Director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, Associate Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Associate Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Director of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. He is a professor in the Department of Entomology. Mike received his BS degree from the University Wisconsin, MS degree from the University of Arizona, and PhD from the University of California, Davis.