Peter Minorsky

  • Professor, Biology
Professor Minorsky

Peter V. Minorsky is a Professor in the Department of Natural Sciences. He received his A.B. from Vassar College (Biology) and his Ph.D. from Cornell University (Plant Physiology). He is the co-author of Campbell Biology, the most highly utilized introductory biology text in the world, for which he is responsible for the Plant Unit. Minorsky's research interests focus on how plants sense and respond to environmental changes. Minorsky began his career as an electrophysiologist who discovered that plants use calcium channels to sense rapid temperature changes. At Mercy, he pioneered the idea that plants are exquisitely sensitive to geomagnetic variations. More recently, he published a monograph on the functions of "sleep" movements (nyctinasty) in leaves, and a historical investigation of Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose, a brilliant Indian plant electrophysiologist whose legacy from a century ago, was destroyed by racist eugenicists in the 1920s. He is an active member of the "plant neurobiology" movement, a group of renegade plant biologists who are interested in exploring plant behavior, and whether plants are capable of higher cognitive functions such as learning, memory and sentience. His teaching duties center mostly on Introductory Biology, Ecology, Plant Biology, and the Capstone Literature courses. The son of immigrants, he was born and raised in Westchester County.

A. B. Vassar College (Biology)

Ph.D. Cornell University (Plant Physiology)

Minorsky PV (2021) American racism and the lost legacy of Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose, the father of plant neurobiology. Plant Signaling & Behavior 16.1 1818030.

Minorsky PV (2019) The functions of foliar nyctinasty: a review and hypothesis. Biological Reviews, 94:216-229.

Minorsky PV (2007) Do geomagnetic variations affect plant function? Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 69:1770-1774.

Minorsky PV & Bronstein N. (2006) Natural experiments indicate that geomagnetic variations cause spatial and temporal variations in coconut palm asymmetry, Plant Physiology 142:40-44.

Minorsky PV (2002) Vernalization: the flower school.  Journal of Biosciences, 27:79-83.

Minorsky PV & Willing, RP.  (1999) Samara dispersal in boxelder: an exercise in hypothesis testing.  American Biology Teacher, 61:56-59.

Minorsky PV (1998) Latitudinal differences in coconut foliar spiral direction; a re-evaluation and hypothesis.  Annals of Botany, 82:133-140.

Saimi, Y, Martinac B, Delcour, AH, Minorsky PV, Gustin, MC, & Kung, C. (1992) Patch clamp studies of microbial ion channels.  Methods in Enzymology, 207:681-691.

Minorsky PV (1989) Temperature sensing by plants: a review and hypothesis.  Plant, Cell & Environment, 12:119-135.

Minorsky PV & Spanswick, RM (1989) Electrophysiological evidence for a role for calcium in temperature sensing by roots of cucumber seedlings.  Plant, Cell & Environment, 12: 137-145.

Minorsky PV (1985) An heuristic hypothesis of chilling injury in plants: a role for calcium as the primary physiological transducer of injury.  Plant, Cell & Environment, 8: 75-94.


Mercy College Teaching Excellence Award (2008)