The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) have awarded $1.7 million to study the novel use of light to suppress a broad group of plant pathogens affecting sustainable production of organically grown crops. Professor Mark Rea, Director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer will work with principal investigator David Gadoury of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on the USDA-NIFA funded project, along with two research groups in Norway, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research.
The research team will develop and test an apparatus for the optimal use of UV-B and visible light to suppress powdery mildews in a variety of production systems, and generally, to advance the fundamental understanding of how light affects pathogen development and disease severity in plants. The team will provide outreach and education, with a focus on improving knowledge of the role of light in disease management, and to assist stakeholders in selecting the best lighting technologies for sustainable production of their specific operations.
On Monday, USDA-NIFA announced $50 million in grants funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which is made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. This program develops and disseminates science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops across the entire spectrum of specialty crops production, from researching plant genetics to developing new production innovations and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards. NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges.
About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC has been pioneering research in energy and the environment, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, and solid-state lighting for more than 25 years. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today the LRC offers both a M.S. in lighting as well as a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. Internationally recognized as the preeminent source for objective information on all aspects of lighting technology and application, LRC researchers conduct independent, third-party testing of lighting products in the LRC's state of the art photometric laboratories, the only university lighting laboratories accredited by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP Lab Code: 200480-0). LRC researchers are continuously working to develop new and better ways to measure the value of light and lighting systems, such as the effect of light on human health, and the effect of light on plant physiology. The LRC believes that by accurately matching the lighting technology and application to the needs of the end user, it is possible to design lighting that benefits both society and the environment.
About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of fields, with particular emphasis in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.