New MSU Building Will Plant Seeds for Collaborative Research
When Michigan State Universitys new plant science facility opens for business in 2012, it will be more than just a building connecting two existing buildings. It will serve as a bridge between two scientific disciplines whose mission is to help produce more and better quality food.
Ground was broken for the new $43 million facility April 16. It will eventually serve as home to a diverse group of researchers and students.
“It will connect two existing buildings—the Plant Biology Laboratories and the Plant and Soil Sciences Building—and will help strengthen the plant science core on campus,” said Douglas Buhler, MAES associate director and associate dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “It will pull together a whole part of the campus in an area that is a real strength of this institution.”
The nearly 80,000-square-foot facility will provide new laboratory research and research support space. It also will include a new auditorium and office space.
The Plant and Soil Sciences Building is now 25 years old. The new facility will allow MSU to expand its focus on research areas such as the bioeconomy, nutrition and plant development.
“This new facility will stimulate a lot of collaborative and interactive work,” said David DeWitt, associate dean for research in the College of Natural Science. “In particular, the labs will have an open design, which cant help but foster collaboration.”
The labs, which will fill the three upper levels of the four-story facility, will provide space for as many as 12 research groups, which could include nearly 150 graduate students, postdoctoral students, undergraduate students and technicians. Five more labs will be added once the fourth floor is completed.
The lower level of the facility will feature increased space for state-of-the-art growth chambers, which will allow year-round plant growing in clean environments.
“Much of the plant genetic work we now do requires very specific control of the environment,” Buhler said. “In many cases, plants need to be contained because of genetic modification work. So, as we move more and more into specialized plant biology research, these are very important facilities.”
MSU‘s plant genetic work in particular will benefit from this new space. MSU scientists have already made great strides in developing plants that are resistant to drought, extreme temperatures, diseases and insect pests.
“We’ve already made some very significant advances, and I think were poised to do more,” Buhler said. “Scientists here have been working on these genetic techniques for a number of years and are now at a point where they are ready to apply them to economically valuable crops.”
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