National Ornamentals Research Site (NORS-DUC)


Camellia flower bush

The National Ornamentals Research Site at Dominican (NORS-DUC) provides nursery growers with solutions, along with collaborating researchers with lab and field support, to aid in horticulture and plant disease management.

A collaboration between Dominican University, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), the NORS-DUC research site studies emerging and invasive quarantine pathogens of ornamental and native plants in an open, nursery-like environment.

We invite scientists from other universities, along with public and private research centers, to conduct studies on quarantine soil-borne organisms at our state-of-the-art research facility.

Our Focus for NORS-DUC

We focus on diseases of ornamental and forest plants, especially those caused by members of the genus Phytophthora, such as P. ramorum, the causal agent of sudden oak death and more recently P. tentaculata, a newly discovered plant pathogen in North America impacting native plant nurseries in California.

Our main focus is applied research, such as validation and development of best management practices (BMPs); development of remediation options for soil, water and infested plants; and development of monitoring and control strategies. We share our research results with the public through a strong outreach program, as well as through scientific and technical publications.

This project represents an exciting opportunity for the nursery industry in the West, across the country and beyond. It moves us down the road toward solving tough problems that threaten the sustainability of the nursery industry and will be a model for future collaborative research.”

— Craig Regelbrugge, Vice President, Government Relations and Research, American Nursery and Landscape Association

  • NORS-DUC invites Dominican students to participate in research activities in the lab and the research nursery.
  • NORS-DUC Requests for Proposals must be processed through USDA APHIS.
  • Pre-proposals must be submitted to NORS-DUC PI concurrently in order to seek site approval.

NORS-DUC Executive Committee

NORS-DUC research has national and international implications, and the limited resources available to the project must be strategically managed. The Executive Committee reviews research project and site management recommendations from the Steering Committee and makes management decisions for the NORS-DUC. These decisions consider the site’s short-term, intermediate and long-term goals.  

Members include:

  • Diara Spain, Chair, Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, DUC
  • Wolfgang Schweigkofler, NORS-DUC Program Manager
  • Patrick J. Shiel, USDA APHIS PPQ Representative and ADODR
  • Andrew Cline, NPB (National Plant Board) Representative

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee works with the Executive Committee to establish overall priorities and to identify and implement research that supports the project’s general purpose. It provides recommendations for the oversight and direction of the site and works in concert with the Research Committee, which suggests experimental design, reviews experiments, and guarantees a broad national research support base. Committee participants represent regulatory agencies, the nursery industry, forestry, and P. ramorum research scientists. Members meet with peers in their respective fields to obtain input and guidance regarding NORS-DUC direction.

Members include:

  • Suzanne Rooney Latham, PhD,  Steering Committee Chair, CDFA
  • Patrick J. Shiel, USDA APHIS PPQ Representative and ADODR
  • Susan Frankel, USDA Forest Service
  • Craig J. Regelbrugge, ANLA, Chair of Nursery and Floriculture Committee
  • Wolfgang Schweigkofler, NORS-DUC Program Manager


National Ornamentals Research Site (NORS-DUC) Leadership

Wolfgang Schweigkofler headshot

Wolfgang Schweigkofler, PhD

Research Associate Professor and Lead Scientist at NORS-DUC

Contact Information

Close up of azaleas

Publications and Presentations

Read publications and presentations about research conducted at the NORS-DUC facility.

Publications and Presentations
potted plants


Learn about NORS-DUC research, including graduate projects.

Ongoing Research

Meet the Team

Wolfgang Schweigkofler headshot

Wolfgang Schweigkofler, PhD

Research Associate Professor and Lead Scientist at NORS-DUC
Tomas Pastalka headshot

Tomas Pastalka, PhD

Plant Pathologist
Vernon Huffman headshot

Vernon Huffman

Nursery Manager