Dr. Peter M. Hirst


Associate Professor, Pomologist
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

B.Sc. - Massey University, 1984
Area of emphasis: Pomology

Ph.D. - The Ohio State University, 1994
Area of emphasis: Horticulture

"My specific research interests fall into three main areas: fruit size in apple, apple rootstock physiology, and factors regulating flowering in apple," says the state tree fruit specialist for Indiana, pomologist Peter Hirst. When not conducting field research or laboratory analyses, Dr. Hirst assists fruit growers and teaches the principles of modern tree fruit production to undergraduate students. "Being awarded a grant that makes a particular research project possible is a rewarding experience, and so is communicating information to fruit growers and helping them improve the productivity and efficiency of their orchards."
"Study an area you have a passion for. Earning a degree is a lot of work and it makes all the difference in the world to be fired up about your subject area." says Hirst, who also encourages his students to broaden their horizons. "Try to incorporate field, greenhouse and lab research into your studies. The approach is different for each, and this helps to give an appreciation for areas of research other than the one you will follow. Take courses from outstanding professors, especially outside your major. This helps give breadth to your experience and understanding of the world around you."

"Food. Aesthetics. Natural products. New uses." Dr. Hirst notes these four reasons why plants are crucial to everyone. "Plants provide practically all the food produced on the planet. The challenge is with plant scientists to increase food production to keep pace with a rapidly increasing world population. The importance of gardens and landscapes to psychological well being is obvious, whether in the form of parks, botanical gardens, interior plants and flowers, or national parks. Many plants produce essential oils, fibers and other compounds useful for manufacturing. Research now underway is laying the ground works for plants to be used in the future to manufacture plastics, and compounds of use in the pharmaceutical industry."