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                             Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Contact:   Rebekah Mullaney
Lighting Research Center
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mullar2@rpi.edu
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Troy, N.Y. -  10/6/2015

USDA-NIFA Awards $1.7 Million for Light and Plants Research

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 solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, and energy efficiency for nearly 30 years. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. 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). In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. With 35 full-time faculty and staff, 15 graduate students, and a 30,000 sq. ft. laboratory space, the LRC is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. The university offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science “to the common purposes of life.”