Roberto Lopez, who just completed his doctorate at Michigan State University (MSU) has joined the floriculture faculty at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
He assumes the position that was open after P. Allen Hammer retired to work for Dummen USA. His appointment is 60 percent Extension, 30 percent research and 10 percent teaching.
“As floriculture Extension specialist, my goal is to provide the floriculture and ornamentals industries of Indiana with sustainable, energy efficient and grower-friendly decision support tools necessary to enhance profit margins, quality and production of current, new and specialty ornamental crops,” Lopez says.
At MSU, where Lopez was Erik Runkle’s first master’s and doctoral student, his research focused on orchids and postharvest physiology of unrooted cuttings. He also discovered Michigan growers could dramatically increase the time it takes to root cuttings by using supplemental lighting. “Plants root faster in 10-14 days versus five to six weeks,” he explains. “They use less energy when they root faster.”
Lopez grew up in New Mexico and completed his undergraduate degree in biology and economics at the University of New Mexico. While there, he happened to meet MSU’s Royal Heins, who encouraged him to become a summer intern at MSU.
Currently, Lopez is working with Hammer on organizing the Indiana Flower Growers Conference next month. He will be growing a small poinsettia trial this year, but the extensive one Purdue has hosted will return in 2008.
Being fluent in Spanish, Lopez looks forward to providing educational programs for
greenhouse workers in Spanish. He also is part of a regional network of Extension agents who are combining resources to help more growers.