A $1.5 million joint grant from USDA and Monsanto Co. will help build plant biotechnology research laboratories at Tuskegee University’s newly constructed Henderson Hall.
Henderson Hall is part of the university’s College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences (CAENS). The labs are expected to be completed in the summer of 2016. Monsanto awarded $750,000 toward the project, and USDA provided $750,000.
The laboratory will be used to train students in agronomy, horticulture, breeding, genetics, entomology, plant pathology, agribusiness and related areas with specific emphasis on world-class biotechnology, said Walter Hill, Ph.D., Tuskegee’s provost and CAENS dean.
“The entire first floor of Henderson Hall will be labs for our students to conduct experiments to demonstrate the concepts and practices they’ve learned,” Hill said. “Biotechnology and molecular plant science is a main component of our modern-day tool kit to learn about plants. It allows us to develop plants that are more resistant to pests and droughts; at the same time, we can develop plants that give us higher yields to help produce more food and improve the quality of life on earth.”
The new facilities are the first of several research laboratories proposed for Henderson Hall. Other laboratories are planned for integrated pest management, animal systems, food safety, nutrition, integrative biosciences, bio-energy, agricultural and environmental sciences engineering, and chemical analysis and synthesis.
Hill said Tuskegee University will continue to be a trusted and objective source of information on complex scientific and social issues, including bio-safety and regulatory testing, trade and labeling issues, socioeconomics and ethics aspects of new technologies, relevance to food security and global development.
“We take pride in the work plant scientists and breeders around the world are doing every day to help farmers get more out of every acre while using the world’s natural resources more efficiently,” said Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer. “We’re also proud to support projects like Tuskegee University’s Plant Biotechnology Research Laboratories that have the potential to transform a local community. These labs will provide unlimited educational opportunities in plant science for our world’s next generation of researchers and biologists.”