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Robin Bellinder, professor of plant science and a national and international leader in weed management, died Nov. 13 in Ithaca, New York, at age 70.
She joined the Cornell University Horticulture Department in 1984 as assistant professor, with a program focused on weed management for vegetable crops. She was appointed professor in 1997.
Bellinder led the effort at Cornell to provide fresh vegetables from plots at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Since 2004, Cornell has donated more than 1 million pounds of produce from the Thompson farm.
Bellinder was a “tireless fighter” for New York vegetable growers, always looking for new tools to manage weeds, according to Steve Reiners, chair of the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science. She was past president of the Northeastern Weed Science Society and in 2005 was named the recipient of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Applied Research.
Her research included all aspects of weed management, from traditional herbicides to cultural and chemical alternatives. She pioneered research in the weed suppressive ability of cover crops. A sabbatical leave to Sweden in 1991 introduced Bellinder to new and innovative European cultivation equipment that she brought back to New York.
She mentored and advised many graduate and undergraduate students and co-taught the course Commercial Vegetable Production.
Bellinder traveled throughout Central America and Asia, and after a visit to India pioneered the use of backpack sprayers for small growers. “Anyone who thinks farmers in India should control weeds without herbicides should spend an afternoon in a field there with a hoe,” she once said. She was elected a fellow of the Indian Weed Science Society for her contributions to Indian agriculture.
Bellinder was the author of more than 80 research publications and more than 200 publications focused on growers. She received her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and her master’s and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.
Bellinder is survived by her daughter, Jessica, and a granddaughter. Viewing hours are 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at Wagner Funeral Home, 110 S. Geneva St., Ithaca, followed by a service. The family requests gifts be made in Bellinder’s name to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
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