Salazar Lab

Welcome to Dr. Melba Salazar’s laboratory. Mission: To develop Decision Support Tools that address farmers’ and industry needs.

About US

Happy Lab Team

Hydroponic Systems Research

Learn more about our research on Smart Strawberry Production in hydroponics.

Dormancy & Phenology Research

Phenology and development play an important role in the overall life cycle of a plant.

Photosynthetic Characterization Research

Characterization of the photosynthetic and respiratory activity of fruit crops like blueberries.

Dry matter & distribution

Learn more about the total dry matter partitioned among plant organs according to plant phenological stages.




Country of Origin: Colombia, South America

Dr. Melba Salazar-Gutierrez joined Auburn University in January 2021, in her previous position as Research Professor at Washington State University Dr. Salazar participated in the development and application of several crop simulation models to estimate the impact of climate variables in agricultural management on tree fruit, grapes, and other horticultural crops to create a strong foundation for decision making and stakeholder recommendations. Models for the cold hardiness of apples, cold hardiness of cherries, phenology of apples, phenology of grapes, a pollen tube growth model, and a model for the fruit diameter of apples, are already available to the public and published. These models have provided tools to the industry and farmers by identifying critical temperatures to manage agricultural practices and avoid the risk of crop loss. Her main goal at Auburn University is to develop tools and do research that addresses farmer and industry needs.

Dr. Salazar is very committed to graduate students, she has been a link in her previous positions with the Global Research and Engagement program to bring students from other countries particularly from Colombia as part of a grant effort. She also has established and maintained positive, respectful, and appropriate mentoring and collaborative relationships with international students and visiting scientists from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds. In Auburn, she is a  member of the Global Program Advisory Committee (GPAC).

Dr. Salazar’s Lab is recognized for its efforts to attract students from various genders, races, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Previously had students and interns from Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia, and currently, the lab is composed of students from Belize, the Philippines, Nepal, and Tanzania. Dr. Salazar actively promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion by fostering a welcoming environment, ensuring equal opportunities, and soliciting diverse perspectives through respectful listening and organizing inclusive activities. Respect and appreciation through regular acknowledgments to make people valued and appreciated is the core of the Salazar’s lab.

In sourcing grants, Dr. Salazar is responsible for stakeholder management of potential grant makers, who are beneficiaries of our research. Her outreach efforts include presentations to farmers and a variety of stakeholders.









Assistant Professor
112 Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849

Research Focus

Dr. Salazar’s research program focuses on studying the whole plant physiology of fruit crops understanding the impact of agroclimatic factors, and the interaction with the plant, and soil. A key element of her program is the combination of physiological knowledge with modeling approaches for the development of decision support tools. Her research address the modeling of the crop physiological responses to environmental stress, climate variability, and climate change, as well as the evaluation of alternative management systems with agricultural infrastructure (protected cultivation,close-loop agriculture) for resilience against climate change designed to optimize and maximize plant productivity, fruit quality, and on-farm-efficiency for food supply while taking care of the environment in a sustainable manner.

Research Topics

Currently, the Laboratory study a broad range of topics (listed below) on fruit crops including but not limited to blueberries, strawberries, and peaches in conventional and alternative production systems (alternative containers, alternative hightunnels, alternative hydroponics conventional blueberries, conventional strawberries).

Trials and experimental plots are located at E.V. Smith Research Center, Chilton Regional & Extension Center, Paterson Greenhouse and Plant Science Research Center

Conventional Blueberries

Conventional Strawberries

Conventional & Alternative Production Systems

See the picture gallery below for both systems of blueberries and stawberries.