Plant Sciences

Pioneering science fuels Purdue’s innovative approaches to the growing demand for food, fuel and fiber. The University’s investment in plant science research at the launch of Purdue Moves in 2013 has generated tens of millions of dollars in new grants and gifts that have strengthened research programs and our ability to deploy discoveries for global impact. Turning data into decisions, and training others in Indiana and around the world to do so, is critical to increasing the efficiency, profitability and sustainability of agriculture and food systems, and Purdue will lead the way. 

Goals

  • Lead the world in understanding plant biology.
  • Move discoveries from the lab to commerically important crops, using automation to assess performance under field conditions.
  • Expand research and education in plant biology by:
  • Develop automated field and controlled environment phenotyping facilities. These will position Purdue as a leader in phenotyping using state-of-the-art imaging.
  • Establish an Internet of Things (IoT) test bed for digital agriculture.
  • Create a plant commercialization incubator to enhance the value of intellectual property and make Purdue industry’s preferred partner.
  • Upgrade laboratory facilties to enhance student training and invest in high school and undergraduate students’ research.
  • Develop student leaders in the plant sciences.

Major Milestones

  • Purdue has invested millions in the College of Agriculture for plant sciences research and education to broaden the University's global impact and develop novel ways to feed a rapidly growing world population.
  • In October 2015, the Office of Research and Partnerships and the Office of the Provost launched the Pillars of Excellence in Life Sciences Initiative, now called the Life Science Institutes, to enhance Purdue's life sciences research and graduate education. The pillars coalesce faculty interdisciplinary expertise around life sciences, contributing to the plant sciences and drug discovery initiatives of Purdue Moves.
  • In August 2016, the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center, the only field phenotyping facility of its kind at an American university, opened at Purdue.
  • In spring 2018, the Controlled Environment Phenotyping Facility opened, further securing Purdue's position as a leader in plant phenotyping. 
  • An IoT test bed is now in place at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE).

Accomplishments

  • The College of Agriculture has generated over $200 million in new gifts and grants.
    • Annual research awards increased from $21.6 million in 2014 to $27.9 million in 2020
    • Total research awards since 2014 was $161.9 million
    • Direct gifts to plant sciences initiative since 2014 was $14.6 million
    • Industry cost share and grant support reached $7 million
  • The college has strengthened the university's research capacity in plant sciences by establishing the Center for Plant Biology
    • The Center for Plant Biology has published 345 papers since 2014 – 180 in high impact journals (IF > 5).
    • The Center for Plant Biology has grown to 39 faculty members.
  • An IoT test bed at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) is in place, enabling wireless access across the 1,400-acre research farm. Remote towers throughout the field capture real-time measurements such as greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Two state-of-the-art phenotyping facilities are now online:
    • Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center: This 25,500-square-foot field phenotyping facility at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) opened in 2016 as a hub of phenomic research for plant breeders, engineers, computer scientists and aviation scientists. Thanks to a combined $4 million investment from Indiana corn and soybean farmers, it's home to advanved technologies for plant processing, seed analysis, threshing and shelling, remote sensing, and data management.
    • Controlled Environment Phenotyping Facility: This automated phenotyping facility opened in spring 2018 to run experiments under highly uniform growth conditions that cannot be easily controlled in the field. Its full range of sensing capabilities, including hyperspectral (HSI), RGB, shortwave infared (SWIR) and computed tomography (CT), allows researchers to study below- and above-ground plant traits from seedlings to full-height corn.
  • Established the North American Plant Phenotyping Network (NAPPN).
  • Launched Ag-Celerator in December 2015, a $2 million plant sciences innovation fund, to provide critical startup support for Purdue innovators looking to commercialize patented intellectual property or Purdue plant science technologies
  • Broadened student reach and training through:
  • Increased student enrollment by 20% - 400 students in 2014 to 481 in 2020.
  • 15 plant-related startup companies are commercializing Purdue IP or trade secret technologies.
  • $855,000 was invested in 15 Ag-Celerator plant-related startup companies
  • 4 agricultural companies have invested in the Convergence Center in the Discovery Park District.