DuPont Invests in Advancement of Purdue Plant Sciences

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As part of an innovative research collaboration, DuPont has granted Purdue University access to its proprietary phenotyping and ear photometry technology. To further enable the advancement of students pursuing agriculture-related majors and support plant sciences research, DuPont will also sponsor the Henry Wallace Chair in Plant Sciences in the Purdue University College of Agriculture.

“We could not be more excited to have DuPont as a collaborator in our plant sciences program,” says Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “This investment will dramatically enhance our capabilities to improve plants and build on the momentum of the Purdue Moves investment in Plant Sciences.”

John Arbuckle, DuPont Pioneer vice president, adds: “Through this public-private effort, we’re shaping the future of agriculture by seeking to advance research and develop a rich talent pipeline of future employees. DuPont, Purdue, and, most importantly, growers will benefit from outcomes that could include broader and deeper research insights and better products with consistently higher yields.”

The technology from Pioneer will advance research at Purdue’s Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art, automated field phenotyping facility. Ear photometry technology, which quantifies yield on a single ear of corn, enables researchers to identify which key ear traits – such as ear size or number of kernels – affect overall performance.

“The ear photometry toolkit will allow us to measure corn phenotype and understand how the environment impacts the genotype,” says Karen Plaut, Purdue senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs and director of agricultural research. “In Indiana, we plant more than 5 million acres of corn per year and research to understand how the environment impacts yield is critical to our farmers.”

Endowed Chair Honors Henry A. Wallace
The newly endowed chair recognizes Henry A. Wallace, who in 1926 founded the Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company, now DuPont Pioneer. An advocate for farmers and the American people, Wallace also served as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1933-1940 and as vice president of the United States from 1941-1945. Throughout his illustrious career, Wallace remained committed to advancing plant genetics.

The Henry A. Wallace Chair will support a faculty member who applies modern technology to plant breeding and will oversee research conducted by students, faculty, staff and industry professionals at the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center.

“It’s fitting for the endowed chair to be named in honor of Henry A. Wallace,” says his grandson, David Wallace Douglas. “He held a strong belief in the value of research and development to continuously improve crop performance, which would ultimately improve the livelihood of farmers.”

DuPont Pioneer has pledged funding for the Henry Wallace Chair in Plant Sciences over a five-year period. This multi-year investment qualifies for the College of Agriculture’s Endowed Chair Challenge and will generate an additional gift of $1 million from a College of Agriculture alumnus.

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