Pomology - Dr. John A. Cline

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Plant Ag


CURRENT Graduate Students

Nicolas Querques, M.Sc Candidate - September 2017


Nicolas Querques: Fall 2017

Supervisor: Prof. John A. Cline, Department of Plant Agriculture

My name is Nicolas Querques and I grew up outside of Guelph in Acton, Ontario. My interest in agriculture began while helping out on the family farm throughout my childhood. Later on in high school I started undertaking several agriculture related hobbies. It was these experiences that prompted me to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering degree in biological and food engineering at the University of Guelph.


During my undergraduate degree I concentrated my studies on fermentation technology and their underlying horticultural systems. Beginning in 2014 I worked with Dr. Emily Chiang on a series of microalgae fermentation bioreactor development research projects. We collaborated with government and industrial organizations to develop valorization systems for agricultural waste streams. While working on these projects I authored a scientific review article on the process optimization of microalgal valorization systems, which was published in the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology.


Following this experience, I found myself increasingly interested in fermentation technology’s basal agricultural systems. This was my most engaging research experience to date while working as the Research Assistant under the Tender Fruit and Grape Specialist at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, Vineland office. I was trained in pomology research concepts and techniques on a variety of projects. This included research on bioregulator effectiveness, rootstock and cultivar performance, orchard management systems, irrigation efficiency improvement technologies, and analyzing the effects of storage, chilling injury, and mealiness in stonefruit. During the chemical pear blossom thinner effectiveness project, I had the opportunity to meet Professor John Cline who will be the research supervisor for my M.Sc. position with the University of Guelph Department of Plant Agriculture.


Together with Dr. Cline I will be working on research projects related to the evaluation of new apple tree cultivars for use in Ontario cider production. The overall project objective is to address the limited supply of traditional European bittersweet and bittersharp apples for the Ontario cider industry.


In my spare time I enjoy many hobbies including gardening fruit, hops and cacti, mushroom cultivation, salami and sausage making, wild mushroom and plant foraging, homebrewing cider, beer, kefir and wine, cooking/baking, videogames, and hanging out with friends.

Derek Plotkowski, Ph.D Candidate - January 2016

Derek Plotkowski: January 2016 –

Supervisor: Prof. John A. Cline, Department of Plant Agriculture

I grew up outside of Detroit, Michigan. After working in a retail greenhouse throughout high school, I decided to study botany when I went to college. I did my undergraduate work at Cornell University, graduating in 2012 with a degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Botany. While at Cornell I also participated in research on bulb plants with the Miller lab and arbuscular mycorrhizae with the Harrison lab at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research. I was drawn into the world of hard cider and wine production during my first semester, when we did a unit on viticulture and enology in Introduction to Horticulture. Soon after, I began taking viticulture and enology courses and completed a minor degree in the subject, all while learning as much as I could about hard cider in the Finger Lakes.

Inspired by local cider industries in both Michigan and New York, I decided to research hard cider production in traditional cider production zones. This goal led me to the International Vintage Master, an Erasmus Mundus program where students study viticulture, enology, terroir management, and wine business. During the program, I studied over a period of two years at l’École Supérieure d’Agriculture d’Angers in France, the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in Vila Real, Portugal, and Corvinus University of Budapest in Hungary. I finished the program with a six-month internship at Sidra Trabanco in Gijón, Asturias, one of Spain’s most important producers of hard cider. While I was there, I did a project testing the storage potential of different containers for sidra natural and a new style of Spanish cider. I graduated with my master’s degree in October 2015. From October to December 2015 I worked at Blake’s Hard Cider Company, the largest hard cider producer in Michigan.

I began my PhD at the University of Guelph in January 2016. I will be working with Dr. John Cline and the Ontario Craft Cider Association on a project involving traditional European and North American cider apple varieties and their suitability for cultivation for hard cider production in Ontario, with the goal of strengthening Ontario’s hard cider industry.

When I’m not doing research, I enjoy cooking, gardening, reading, playing board games, and playing the violin.


Former Graduate Students

  • Michelle Arseneault, M.Sc

  • Christopher Duybelshoff, M.Sc

  • Kendra Sauerteig, M.Sc

  • Derek Wright, M.Sc.

Michelle Arseneault, M.Sc - 2014 - 2016

May 2014 –
Supervisor: Prof. John A. Cline, Department of Plant Agriculture


I am from a beautiful community in the boreal forest of Northwestern, Ontario called Dryden. In high school I was a member of an Envirothon team (environmental competition) and I led an inspiring campaign about sustainable living. For the contributions that I made to my community, I was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal. In 2010, I came to the University of Guelph to study agriculture with a focus in soil health but quickly learned that my passion was plant agriculture (Crops, Horticulture and Turfgrass major). A fun extracurricular event that I participated in was an international, “Thought for Food Challenge,” where my team planned a winning idea to feed the growing population. In 2011 and 2012, I worked with the university weed science laboratory as a research assistant. In 2013 I worked at the campus farm and performed educational outreach such as co-authoring a book, “The Good Season: Easy recipes for wild edibles.” Although I enjoy many areas of plant agriculture, by taking the course, “Fruit Crops,” I have been happy to discover that I am very interested in tree fruit science. I am glad to accept an M.Sc. position with Dr. John Cline where I will be researching the apple tree events known as 'June' drop and preharvest drop. Our objective is to develop new recommendations for using plant growth regulators or micronutrients to induce thinning or to delay fruit drop. My hobbies include volunteering, gardening, capturing nature macro-photos, baking, and watching movies.

Derek Wright, M.Sc Candidate - 2013

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Derek Wright: May 2013 –
Supervisor: Prof. John A. Cline, Department of Plant Agriculture


I grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario and became interested in horticulture during my childhood and fruit crops more specifically during high school. I have tried my hand at grafting with various fruit species including apples but my success was short lived due to rodents. I spent my high school summers working at Canadale Nurseries Ltd. in St. Thomas, during which I further developed my horticultural skills and interests. I began my B.Sc. (in Plant Science) at the University of Guelph in 2009. During my undergraduate degree I worked for Dr. Al Sullivan and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency during the summer months. Through these employment opportunities I learned a great deal about research involving horticultural crops and plant pest and disease management. My undergraduate thesis involved the evaluation of repellent compounds against Drosophila suzukii a pest of temperate fruit species, which was recently introduced into Ontario. The fruit crops course at Guelph awakened my interest in fruit production and led to my acceptance of an M.Sc position with Dr. John Cline. My planned research will involve an irrigation study with “Gala” and “Ambrosia” apples, the treatments in this study will supply water at different rates to replace losses incurred by evapotranspiration. The objective is to determine which rate of irrigation will contribute to optimal yield and fruit quality while conserving water. During my spare time I enjoy hanging out with friends, watching movies (particularly sci-fi) and a favourite hobby of mine is scuba diving.


Christopher Duyvelshoff, M.Sc - 2011

Christopher Duyvelshoff
MSc. Candidate: May 2009 – 2011
Supervisor: Prof. John A. Cline, Department of Plant Agriculture


Biographical Information

I was born and raised in Oakville, Ontario.  I first became interested in horticulture in high school while helping my parents in their perennial garden.  Soon I started making my own plantings, especially vegetables and I was hooked.  I entered the BSc (Agr) Horticulture program here at the University of Guelph in Fall 2005.  During the summers of my undergraduate degree I worked at Sheridan Nurseries, the Royal Botanical Gardens and in the Guelph Trial Garden with Rodger Tschanz.  I learned a lot about ornamental horticulture from these experiences.  In my final year, I completed an undergraduate thesis in the artificial creation of polyploid Impatiens with Dr. Al Sullivan.  Through my experiences in fruit crops class, along with my lifelong visits to the family cottage in Meaford in southern Georgian Bay, an area of intensive apple production, I developed a particular interest in tree fruits.  With a desire to continue in higher education, I accepted a M.Sc position with Prof. John Cline working on biennial bearing and precocity issues with ‘Northern Spy’ apple trees.  My research began in the spring of 2009, and to date, my experience working at the Horticulture Experiment Station (HES) in Simcoe has been very insightful to the field of tree fruit production in Ontario.  The goal of my research is to provide ‘Northern Spy’ growers with information on improving production systems using growth regulators. During my spare time I enjoy hanging out with friends and playing various sports.  As much as possible I try to go to the cottage to relax and tend my garden. For further information you may reach Chris at


Kendra Sauerteig, M.Sc

Kendra Sauerteig
MSc. Candidate: Sept 2009 – April 2012
Supervisor: Prof. John A. Cline, Department of Plant Agriculture


Biographical Information
My name is Kendra Sauerteig and I am originally from Saint John, New Brunswick. I have come to Guelph from the East Coast after having just finished a Biology Honours degree with a Minor in Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax. My undergraduate thesis focused on plant cell physiology, and more specifically, programmed cell death (PCD) in plants. Under the guidance of my supervisor Dr. Arunika Gunawardena, I worked on optimizing a protocol for staining and visualizing actin microfilaments in whole tissue mounts of lace plant (Aponogeton madagascariensis) leaves using confocal microscopy. I first became interested in tree fruit after completing an internship with Slow Food Nova Scotia where I researched Heritage, or Heirloom, variety apple trees in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. I am also personally interested in locally-sourced food, and developing agricultural practices that will benefit farming in Canada. I plan to research ways to artificially thin blossoms on fruit trees to produce larger, more marketable fruit. I am interested in developing mechanical ways to thin blossoms, which would not require the application of chemical thinning sprays. When not at school I enjoy traveling, hiking, and music.


Former Graduate Students

Coming soon