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By Jenn Stewart

The Purdue University College of Agriculture has awarded $1 million in state-funded grants to researchers for 17 projects designed to advance Indiana's leadership in plant and animal agriculture, human health and rural development.

The grants are part of a program called Agricultural Science and Extension for Economic Development, or AgSEED. The Indiana Legislature first funded AgSEED in 2013 and again in 2015 through the state's Crossroads program - part of Indiana's commitment to agriculture and rural development.

"These funds are supporting research that will help Indiana enhance economic and job growth in the state," said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Purdue Agriculture. "The projects selected are innovative and high-impact, and we're excited about the state's investment."

The 17 selected projects came from a pool of nearly 100 proposals submitted by faculty and staff in the colleges of Agriculture, Health and Human Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine. The grants are $50,000 for one-year projects and $75,000 for two-year projects.

Some of the funded projects will focus on:

* Developing more efficient and effective vaccines for livestock.

* Enhancing food crops by increasing floral fragrance to attract pollinators.

* Training urban farmers, reducing urban land vacancy and increasing food access.

* Helping hardwood plantation owners become profitable with non-timber forest products while trees mature.

* Understanding how heat-processed foods relate to obesity.

AgSEED-supported research will grow Indiana's leadership in these and other areas involving plant and animal agriculture, human health and rural development, said Karen Plaut, senior associate dean for research for Purdue Agriculture.

"This funding will lay the groundwork for long-term studies in these areas and, in many cases, help researchers leverage future grant opportunities that directly affect agriculture in Indiana and beyond," she said.

The projects also will help the state's residents make more informed decisions about personal and community health and economics - one of the strategic themes of AgSEED, said Jason Henderson, associate dean and director of Purdue Extension.

"The Extension system puts Purdue in a unique position to lead efforts to help people of Indiana by sharing research with the public and providing education programs throughout the state," he said. "Sharing that research improves Indiana residents' quality of life, and AgSEED plays a major role in that mission."

Other strategic themes of the AgSEED program are to build a sustainable and secure food production system, use molecular approaches to expand the frontiers of agriculture and life sciences, develop a robust bioeconomy to feed and power the world, enhance food and health and strengthen environmental integrity.

More information about the AgSEED program and current research projects is available at https://ag.purdue.edu/AgSEED.

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