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Annie Vogel: The Sweet Secrets of Apple Physiology

Annie Vogel

Annie Vogel, a doctoral student researcher in the Department of Horticultural Science, studies the way apples respond to different environmental factors and diseases. Specifically, her research focuses on how the trees grow, what influence the environment has on their development and how the apples themselves change over time. She hopes that her research will reveal new insights into how apples grow and respond to fire blight disease, which can then be used to improve apple cultivation for North Carolina orchards and beyond.

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What did you get your degrees?

I grew up moving around the United States, so I don’t have a true origin. The closest to home is Athens, Georgia where I completed my undergraduate and master’s degrees in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia (UGA). For my master’s, I studied viticulture, focusing on cultural management practices and physiology.

Why and when did you get into horticulture?

I became a horticulture major in the second semester of my freshman year at UGA. I was exhausted from my first semester as a biology major, and I wanted to take a few fun plant classes instead of more chemistry. That spur-of-the-moment decision led to a love for horticulture and a career I would never have imagined.

What brought you to North Carolina State University?

I came to NC State specifically to work with my advisor and Assistant Professor Tom Kon. I knew I liked applied science and working with fruit crops, so when searching for a program, Tom’s stood out as the right path.

Can you tell us about your research?

My research is related to apple tree physiology, and an economically important bacterial disease called fire blight. We aim to see the effects of horticultural practices on not only tree growth and productivity, but also the incidence, severity and systemic movement of disease as it relates to growth parameters.

Some of the treatments investigated include plant growth regulator rates and interactions, fertilization rates and rootstocks. Ultimately we want to understand the relationship between growth rate and bacterial movement, and how and why horticultural treatments can contribute to the reduction in the use of antibiotics in orchards.

What upcoming project are you most excited about and why?

I will soon be investigating different plant growth regulators application techniques and their longevity, as well as their impact on root systems. This project, if the results are convincingly favorable, could encourage changes in nursery production and early production of commercial orchards.

What has been the highlight of your graduate school experience so far?

Getting to work with people I enjoy and fostering community in my lab, as well as throughout the department, has been the biggest highlight of the last few years. The research is so important, but relationships with friends and colleagues are just as valuable.

Do you have any advice for incoming graduate students?

Carve out time for what you love. I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have if I threw away all the things I love the most. For me, focusing on my music gives me back the piece of myself that can get lost in the chaos otherwise.

Are you interested in studying horticulture?

The Department of Horticultural Science provides a hands-on academic path that provides real-world benefits and applications. Explore our undergraduate and graduate programs to learn from expert faculty and have career-focused experiences.

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