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Troy, N.Y. -  8/16/2016

Plant Pathologist Jaimin Patel Joins the LRC

The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute today announced that world-renowned plant pathologist Jaimin Patel, Ph.D., has joined the center, further strengthening the LRC’s horticultural lighting and plant pathology program. Dr. Patel will collaborate with Dr. David Gadoury of Cornell University’s Division of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and Dr. Mark Rea of the LRC on a $1.7 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study the novel use of light to suppress a broad group of plant pathogens affecting sustainable production of organically grown crops.

“In stark contrast to conventional wisdom, which points to the favorability of temperature and relative humidity as primary drivers of pathogen epidemics in controlled environments, our research indicates that both visible and UV radiation have heretofore unappreciated roles as epidemic drivers,” said Patel. “This discovery opens new possibilities to suppress plant pathogens by selective manipulation of light.”

Right now, more than 7 billion people are competing for Earth’s dwindling supply of natural resources. By 2050, there will be 9 to 10 billion. To meet increasing demand, efficient and sustainable crop production and energy systems are needed.

Solid-state lighting has the potential to change the way crops are grown in controlled environments, and even the type of crops grown there. An expanding list of spectrally tuned SSL is available to modify morphological and chemical characteristics of plants, enabling growers to extract greater value from crop production. The technical developments of lighting for horticulture applications have fueled an expansion of controlled environments for crop production. However, controlled environments also present substantial challenges for pest and disease management. The research team at Cornell University and the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer seeks to understand and exploit light-dependent mechanisms for the purposes of suppressing plant pathogens in these challenging environments.

“The advancements in solid-state lighting offer unprecedented opportunities to manipulate wavelength, pulse duration, synchrony, and novel spectral combinations to produce suppressive effects on pathogens, while maintaining plant health and productivity,” said Patel.

Patel is the author of more than 40 scientific articles, and serves as the Associate Editor of Plant Health Progress, a peer-reviewed journal of applied plant health. Prior to joining the LRC, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Tropical Research and Education Center at the University of Florida, where he collaborated with scientists from around the world to study multiple crops and a variety of plant pathogens. His professional research career has provided advanced knowledge for the management of plant diseases through his many publications, presentations, and outreach activities for growers, consumers and other stakeholders.

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

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.