Research

Currently, horticulture here in Kentucky, across the United States and the world is facing imminent environmental, water and energy issues in our dynamic economy and climate. The problems facing horticulture today shape our research programs. At the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture we strive to tackle some of the world's major sustainability issues by providing state of the art research facilities and an on-farm research environment that allows research and the students performing it to thrive and prosper.

Our innovative research in areas such as cell wall synthesis, enzymology, genetics, sustainable/organic production practices, carbon and nitrogen cycling, seed and fruit biology are tightly integrated into our teaching and outreach. This means that as an undergraduate or graduate student, you will be surrounded by cutting edge ideas and critically important challenges from day one.

As a research faculty, we are committed to the people of Kentucky, and the undergraduate and graduate students that collectively represent our future. Despite the many challenges facing horticulture, we believe that as a team we can overcome them for the betterment of our built and natural environment. Our investment in leading research and teaching facilities and our international network of research and education partners provide many job opportunities for our graduates. Examples include:

  • Biotechnology: Understanding the building blocks of plants is an immense challenge. There are 28,000 genes in the smallest of plant genomes and understanding them holds the key to pinpointing traits for drought tolerance, nutrient use efficiency, fruit and seed quality as well as the way plants interact with other organisms in their environment. Providing our graduates with skills and knowledge of biotechnology ensures competitiveness in the modern workplace.
  • Environmental science: e.g. Government agencies: National Park Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic farm certifying agencies, Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Crop production: Focus area grape and wine science. Grapes represent the most valuable horticultural crop in the world with a high demand for graduates and opportunities to travel. We have a 60-acre research farm with established vineyard and winemaking facilities. More than 50 wineries exist around Lexington and hundreds regionally.
  • Crop production: Focus area organic farming. Organic farming is the fastest growing sector of agriculture in the United States. One of the nation’s leading sustainable horticulture (fruits and vegetables focused) programs exists within the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture.

Additional notable areas of graduate employment enabled by our research include:

  • International development
  • Agribusiness management
  • Biosecurity
  • Commodity trading
  • Crop protection