January 14, 2016  

Center for the Environment, College of Agriculture to host Ideas Lab on research for ag-related technologies in food security

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Center for the Environment, in partnership with the College of Agriculture, will lead an effort aimed at generating innovative interdisciplinary research proposals for new agricultural technologies in food security.

Faculty from a wide range of perspectives are invited to participate in a three-day Ideas Lab on Jan. 27-29. The event, which will be facilitated by the British-based firm Knowinnovation, is at the Wright Conference Center, 1007 N. 725 W., in West Lafayette. Space is limited, so registration prior to the event is required.

"The Ideas Lab is designed to help us create innovative new interdisciplinary research pre-proposals and teams by the end of the three-day session," said Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research for Purdue Agriculture. "Another goal is to create a new intellectual community that will leverage Purdue's growing investments in the plant sciences and make the university a leader in understanding the social, political, and economic implications, challenges and opportunities for new seed technologies."

Seed funding from the college will be available for proposal ideas emerging from the Ideas Lab that require some initial results or other work prior to submission, Plaut said. Faculty from all disciplines and perspectives interested in generating collaborative research ideas are encouraged to participate.

"New seed technologies have transformed and will continue to transform agriculture in profound ways, with complex and sometimes poorly understood effects on farmers, societies and ecosystems," said Leigh Raymond, director of Discovery Park's Center for the Environment and a political science professor. "These effects depend on complex interactions between the crop in question, the type of seed improvement, the specific intellectual property arrangements, and other regulatory and social factors."

Future plans to use any new seed technologies - open-pollinated, hybrid, or transgenic - to address food security will have to grapple with the difficult challenges posed by complex and interconnected social, political, economic and scientific systems that both limit and facilitate the adoption of improved seeds, Raymond said.

Faculty interested in the Purdue-led Ideas Lab also are encouraged to attend Economic Perspectives on Seed Technology Challenges, the third in a series of Center for the Environment seminars offering different perspectives on seed technology challenges. The event is at 3 p.m. Friday (Jan. 15) in Stewart Center, Room 218D.

The seminar will include opening remarks by Purdue agricultural economics professor John Sanders on key challenges and implications of using new seed technologies in efforts to promote food security. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Through Purdue's Center for the Environment, researchers are studying ways to help society meet important environmental challenges by modeling and predicting the impact of human activity on ecosystems, monitoring environmental quality, conserving natural resources and developing new technologies. 

Writers: Emily Sigg, 765-494-2083, esigg@purdue.edu

Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources: Leigh Raymond, 765-494-4182, lraymond@purdue.edu

Karen Plaut, 765-494-8362, kplaut@purdue.edu 

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