Did you know there are more than 10,000 different grape varieties? That means thousands of unique tastes, colors, and potential uses. Viticulturists are experts in the growing of grapes – working to ensure vineyards deliver the quality and quantity of grapes required to meet demand for beverage and food production. Often the head of operations, viticulturists are responsible for all portions of the grape growing process, including soil preparation, pest and disease control, irrigation and proper harvesting.

We live in a world of green and growing things; fruits, vegetables, flowers and other types of plants not only make our world beautiful, but they also provide the food we need.  The plant world contains thousands of varieties of plants that Horticulturists study and conduct experiments on to develop ways to maximize their growth and health.  They may determine optimal soil composition, research chemical-free pest management solutions or oversee nurseries and greenhouses.

A plant biologist knows plants and their life cycle better than they know themselves. They use that knowledge to maximize, protect and manage crops and agricultural plants and trees. Starting from the root—literally, with expertise in soil and pests—plant biologists research the perfect conditions for plants to thrive in. Because of their research, farmers make the most of their yearly crop to feed the world.

Centuries ago, ears of corn were less than an inch long and only produced about ten hard kernels that tasted like dry, raw potatoes. The corn we grow and eat today is 100 times larger, with about 800 sweet and juicy kernels. The evolution from a tiny, tasteless crop to a flavorful food staple is the work of plant geneticists. By selectively breeding crops based on desirable qualities – such as yield, flavor, size and nutrient value – plant geneticists improve and create new varieties of crops and plants.

Plant pathologists evaluate plant species from both a micro and macro level to determine pathogens affecting the life and production of the plant. This career is vital for the innovation of plant growth and production practices that protect individual plants and are environmental safe and effective.

Did you know there are over 100 different types of soil and a large array of environmental factors that affect how productive these soils are? Agronomists are the soil doctors that study the relationship between soil and plant life, they work to improve soil quality and productivity, plant health, seed quality and the nutritional value of crops.

Scientists on the forefront of innovation continue to identify new ways that plants contribute to modern science. Students who wish to join those front lines may pursue an education in plant science—where they will develop knowledge of plant biology and physiology, development and evolution, biotechnology, crop production, processing and environmental management. Program graduates will have countless opportunities to use their specialized expertise toward discovery and innovation of all kinds—from crop management, to laboratories, alternative energy and/or medicinal research.

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