Purdue Plant Sciences Pipeline
Enhances Research, Education
The Purdue Plant Sciences Research and Education Pipeline is bringing together
research disciplines and faculty to create a new, Smarter Agriculture™.
As part of Purdue Moves, the developing pipeline gives farmers and researchers
the tools and technology they need to produce enough food for a rapidly growing
world population in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“Efficiently and nutritiously feeding the world is going to require better-yielding
crops, high-tech crop-management solutions and a highly trained agricultural
workforce,” says Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs
in the College of Agriculture and plant sciences pipeline coordinator. “That’s what
the pipeline is all about.”
The Center for Molecular Agriculture, directed by Bob Pruitt, professor of botany
and plant pathology, enhances basic plant biology research to address grand
food-production challenges. Ten new faculty members will join the center. Twelve
candidates out of 185 applicants were interviewed for the first five positions. Offers
were made in April, and administrators are negotiating with three faculty. Another
five faculty will be recruited next year.
Construction of a state-of-the-art Automated Field Phenotyping and Seed Processing Facility is underway at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education. The
facility enables the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, phenomobiles and advanced
sensors at the 1,500-acre farm and the Water Quality Field Station. Data on individual plants can be transmitted to campus via fiber optic network. Faculty from
the Colleges of Engineering, Science and Agriculture and the Purdue Polytechnic
Institute are collaborating and have applied for $20 million in new grants.
A new Greenhouse Plant Imaging Facility will be an integral part of plant pheno-
The phenotyping facilities will be managed by April Carroll, the new director of
phenomics. Carroll was most recently responsible for Dupont-Pioneer’s phenotyp-
ing facility and is one of the few people worldwide with experience in using this
cutting edge technology to answer research questions.
Prospective and current students have opportunities with new labs for biochemistry and molecular genetics. The Molecular Agriculture Summer Institutes provide
undergraduate fellowships for research in plant biology. The pre-college program
brings high school seniors to campus for an introduction to cutting-edge research
in plant sciences.
National Cancer Institute
Renews Designation for
Purdue Center, Awards
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has
renewed the Purdue University Center for
Cancer Research’s designation as an NCI
cancer center and awarded the center $8
million in funding over the next 5 years.
“The Purdue Center for Cancer Research
is among an elite few that receive such
a designation,” says Purdue President
Mitch Daniels. “The center has leveraged Purdue’s strengths into tremendous
advances in cancer detection and treatment. Its successes include 13 potential
drugs in clinical trials and technology
that has generated 14 startup companies
within the last five years, and its future is
even more promising.”
The National Cancer Institute rated the
center as “outstanding” in its review and
renewed its designation as an NCI basic
science cancer center.
“Notably, the center has clear examples
of having translated a number of its
discoveries,” the revie w stated. “ The
center is poised to move to a new level
of national impact in drug discovery and
Out of thousands of cancer facilities in
the nation, only 68 are NCI-designated
cancer centers. Of those 68, only 7 are
basic laboratory cancer centers, which
conduct only laboratory research and do
not provide patient treatment, says
Timothy Ratliff, the Robert Wallace Miller
Director of the Purdue University Center
for Cancer Research.
“More than 14 million people in the U.S.
have a history of cancer and more than
one million new cases will be diagnosed
this year,” Ratliff says. “We want to eliminate any hurdles or gaps in the path from
research concept to a tool or treatment
available to patients.”
Ben Hall, a Purdue graduate student in agronomy,
collects leaf reflectance
data in a soybean field at
Purdue’s Agronomy Center
for Research and Education. Hall was collecting
data to determine variation in nitrogen content in
the plants’ leaves. Sensor
technology has proven to
be a precise and efficient
method for phenotyping