Abby van den Berg
Research Assistant Professor in Plant Biology
Ph.D. 2007, University of Vermont
Office: Proctor Maple Research Center
Research Area: plant physiological ecology and maple syrup chemistry
Courses Taught: Plant Physiology (PBIO 104), Principles of Biology I (BIOL 001), Principles of Biology II (BIOL 002), Exploring Biology I (BCOR 011), Exploring Biology II (BCOR 012)
Summary of Research Program
Much of my research focuses on the ecophysiology of maple sugaring, including the effects of tapping and carbohydrate extraction on tree growth and health, the physiology of stem pressure and carbohydrates in xylem sap, and ultimately on helping to develop management practices and tapping guidelines to ensure the long-term sustainability of maple syrup production. Recently, my work has expanded to include studying the physiology of stem pressure development in birch trees, and investigating sap yields and the potential profitability of adding birch syrup production to existing maple operations in the Northeastern US.
Maple syrup is Vermont’s signature agrifood product, and another area of my research is focused on the chemical composition and flavor of maple syrup, particularly on gaining a better understanding of the compounds important to its flavor profile, and on how factors such as the environment, processing technologies, and management practices might affect its composition and flavor. Most recently, we have studied the impacts of modern sap processing technologies, such as reverse osmosis, on the composition and flavor of the maple syrup produced.
I also study the ecophysiology of anthocyanin pigments, particularly the potential effects of climate change on the development of the anthocyanin pigments in autumn senescing leaves that are responsible for the highly-prized display of autumn coloration in Vermont.
- van den Berg, A.K., Perkins, T.D., Isselhardt, M.L., Godshall, M.A. and Lloyd, S.W. 2012. Maple syrup production with sap concentrated to high levels by membrane separation: effects on syrup chemical composition and flavor. International Sugar Journal 114:572-576.
- van den Berg, A.K. 2012. Defining modern, sustainable tapping guidelines for maple syrup production. Northeastern States Research Cooperative, www.nsrcforest.org. 22p.
- van den Berg, A.K., Perkins, T.D., Isselhardt, M.L., Godshall, M.A. and Lloyd, S.W. 2011. Effects of producing maple syrup from concentrated and reconstituted sap of different sugar concentrations. International Sugar Journal 113:35-44.
- van den Berg, A.K., Perkins, T.D., Isselhardt, M.L., Godshall, M.A. and Lloyd, S.W. 2009. Air injection into concentrated maple sap during processing: impact on syrup composition and flavor. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 89:1770-1774.
- van den Berg, A.K., Vogelmann, T.C. and Perkins, T.D. 2009. Anthocyanin influence on light absorption within juvenile and senescing sugar maple leaves – do anthocyanins function as photoprotective visible light screens? Functional Plant Biology 36:793-800.
- Perkins, T.D. and van den Berg, A.K. 2009. Maple syrup – production, composition, chemistry, and sensory characteristics. In Advances in Food and Nutrition Research (Ed. S.L. Taylor), 56:103-144. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, USA.
- van den Berg, A.K., Perkins, T.D., Isselhardt, M.L., Godshall, M.A. and Lloyd, S.W. 2009. Effects of air injection during sap processing on maple syrup color, chemical composition and flavor volatiles. International Sugar Journal 111(1321):37-42.
- van den Berg, A.K. and Perkins, T.D. 2007. Contribution of anthocyanins to the antioxidant capacity of juvenile and senescing sugar maple (Acer saccharum) leaves. Functional Plant Biology 34:714-719.
- Perkins, T.D., Morselli, M.F., van den Berg, A.K. and Wilmot, T.R. 2006. Maple chemistry and quality. In North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual (R.B. Heiligmann, M.R. Koelling, T.D. Perkins, Eds.) pp 294-300. The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.