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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 conducts research in light and human health, transportation lighting and safety, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency, and plant health. 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. 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. Learn more at www.lrc.rpi.edu.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America's first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,900 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.