Purdue's College of Agriculture will receive more than US$20 million in university funding for plant sciences research and education to further developing new and novel ways to help feed a rapidly growing world population.
The plant sciences initiative, announced by President Mitch Daniels on Thursday (Sept. 12) during a President's Forum, is among 10 targeted programmes designed to enhance research and educational opportunities for students and broaden Purdue's global impact.
The College of Agriculture plans to add 10 new faculty positions, some new facilities and remodeling of existing facilities, and programmatic support for research and student recruitment and education.
The investment will dramatically expand Purdue's capabilities in plant sciences, helping the university to move discoveries from the laboratory to commercialisation or to the farm in innovative ways, said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture.
"In addition, we will be embedding educational opportunities for students throughout this process of discovery and innovation, creating a unique learning opportunity for the next generation of leaders in the plant sciences," Akridge said.
The plant sciences investment will be divided into these main areas, with student engagement a fundamental part of each:
- Expanding research and education in plant biology through 10 new faculty hires that would be affiliated with a new Center for Molecular Agriculture.
- Enhancing the college's ability to move research discoveries into commercially important crops with development of a plant transformation facility, which will bridge a gap between identification of valuable genes in crop production and their commercialization.
- Building high-speed, large-scale capabilities to assess crop characteristics and performance through automated field phenotyping that will provide for detailed assessments of plant traits that are important for both research and commercialization.
- Establishing a plant commercialization incubator facility to create opportunities for plant sciences faculty and students to move their ideas to the farm and the marketplace through commercialization and licensing arrangements.
- Developing student leaders in the plant sciences through a precollege summer institute to help attract students to the area, research and experiential learning activities throughout the curriculum, and engagement in licensing and commercialization.
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