Another belated goodbye: Dominic Petrella

Just before the 2016 annual meeting of the Crop Science Society of America, I was contacted by a graduate student from Ohio State University named Dominic Petrella who was interested in joining our group. We met for breakfast, and after talking about some AL Central baseball (Dominic is a rabid Cleveland fan), we started talking about the ways a plant physiologist could support turfgrass breeding and genetics--early in our conversation it became quite clear to me that he would be a great fit in Minnesota.

Dominic Petrella joined our group in June of 2017 (Figure 1). Much of his initial work was focused on trying to figure out allelopathy in the fine fescues. As time permitted, he spent time working on his research passion--light responses. From very early on in his time at UMN, Dominic was adamant that there were better ways to select grasses for shade tolerance than were being used. HIs tireless work on simulating foliar shade resulted in an impressive publication in Plant Methods that details an improved, more effective way to study turfgrasses for shaded environments.

A man looking intently at a research green
Figure 1. Dominic Petrella at our Turfgrass Research, Outreach and Education Center. Photo by David L. Hansen.

Dominic played an important role in our group--he mentored undergraduate students, he helped graduate students with methodology and plant physiology understanding, he developed new selection methods for our breeding program, he taught undergraduates and graduates about turfgrass stress responses, he was a resource for other researchers in our college working on light responses, he worked on improving turfgrass seed production in northern Minnesota, he taught turfgrass managers about shade environments (Figure 2), he helped formulate project ideas and assisted in grant writing….the list goes on.

A man giving a presentation to a group beneath some trees
Figure 2. Dominic Petrella talking to a group about his shade research. Photo by Maggie Reiter.

In December, Dominic started as an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Agricultural and Technical Institute where he leads the undergraduate turfgrass management program and teaches a number of courses in turfgrass management. He also will be continuing his research on stress responses in low-input turfgrasses. Dominic played an instrumental role in helping develop the recently funded WinterTurf project, and will continue to play a key role in that project. We look forward to collaborating with Dominic for years to come!