Dr. Elisabeth Forrestel to join VEN faculty in Fall of 2019

Dr. Forrestal

The Department of Viticulture and Enology will welcome a second Assistant Professor of Viticulture this coming Fall.

Dr. Elisabeth Forrestel completed her undergraduate degree in Biology at Cornell University in 2004 with a concentration in Molecular and Cell Biology. After forays into farming, wooden boatbuilding and culinary pursuits, she completed a PhD in 2015 at Yale University under the supervision of Dr. Michael Donoghue and Dr. Melinda Smith in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  Her dissertation work focused on the evolutionary and ecophysiological basis of adaptation to climate and disturbance gradients in grass communities, and showed the critical importance of considering phylogenetic and biogeographic history in predicting plant functional responses to environmental change.  

Dr. Forrestel went on to complete postdoctoral work with Dr. Elizabeth Wolkovich at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, studying the phenological responses of winegrapes to a warming climate. As a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, she came to the Department of Viticulture & Enology at UC Davis to study the phylogenetic and functional basis of drought and heat responses in wild and cultivated grapevine, under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew McElrone and Dr. Andrew Walker.

Upon the completion of her fellowship in September 2019, Beth will be joining the Department of Viticulture and Enology as faculty. Her research program addresses questions about the evolutionary and ecophysiological basis of drought and heat responses in grapevine, and how irrigation practices mitigate stress responses, including:

  • Are there consistent physiological and anatomical trait syndromes that have evolved in response to water limitation across the grapevine genus, and what is the molecular basis for these traits?
  • How do physiological and biochemical responses to extreme heat differ across cultivars and rootstocks, and what are the most appropriate irrigation practices to mitigate grapevine responses to heat stress?
  • How do heat events at different phenological stages affect growth rates, yield and quality within and across growing seasons?

Dr. Forrestel will apply her research to improve understanding of how we can utilize wild species and cultivar diversity to adapt to warmer and drier climates, and inform viable management practices in vineyards in response to heat stress.  She also plans to continue her public outreach efforts, promoting the preservation of germplasm and genetic resources critical to protecting the future of grape production under changing climates and disease pressures.

We look forward to having her onboard!