Dr. Cregg's research has focused on physiology and management of trees in nursery, Christmas tree, and landscape systems
Dr. Bert Cregg has been with MSU's Department of Horticulture for 20 years and has many research projects
Dr. Bert Cregg’s interest in plants began his sophomore year of high school in Olympia, Washington, when he took classes in botany and ecology. Those classes, along with his summer job on a Christmas tree farm, increased his interest in trees, especially conifers. From there, he went to Washington State University where he earned a B.S. degree in Forest Management, then Oklahoma State University for his M.S. degree in Forest Sciences, and finally to the University of Georgia for his Ph.D. in Forest Resources. During his Ph.D., he studied ozone impacts on forest health and carbon partitioning in pine. After graduating, he was a Research Plant Physiologist for the United States Forest Service for six years at the National Agroforestry Center in Lincoln, NE. Afterwards, he moved into the forest industry and managed a 300-acre tree research station as a Tree Physiology Project Leader for International Paper.
In 1999, he got a job at Michigan State University as a professor with a 50% research, 50% extension appointment. Since then, his research has focused on physiology and management of trees in nursery, Christmas tree, and landscape systems. His research can be broken down into four major projects. First, he is interested in improving the lifespan of trees in urban environments that are exposed to many stresses that are increasing with a changing climate. To do this, he and his team are working to identify different cultivars of trees that show a greater ability to adapt to urban stress and climate change. Another research project focuses on how to improve the success of trees transplanted into landscapes. The main objective here is to evaluate different cultural techniques to identify ones that result in greater transplant success. Furthermore, he and a team of MSU faculty are interested in the physiology of nursery crops that are irrigated with recycled run-off water as part of a multi-institution USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program. Finally, Bert is researching the genetics of Christmas trees as well as cultural techniques of nursery tree production. Some objectives of this project are to reduce coning and to improve nutrient and pest management strategies.
For the rest of Bert’s career, he plans to continue his current research as well as a new project in collaboration with Dr. Bob Schutzki, supported by the Michigan Department of Transportation, to improve establishment of plants on freeway roadsides. A piece of advice he would give to graduate students is to think broadly about job opportunities in areas of horticulture beyond academia, including positions in government and private sectors.