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Tuinstra scientific director of Purdue Moves
 plant sciences initiative

By Keith Robinson
January 28, 2014

Purdue University professor of plant breeding and genetics Mitch Tuinstra has been appointed scientific director of the plant sciences research and education initiative that is part of the university's Purdue Moves program.

The initiative, announced in September, is among 10 targeted programs designed to develop more research and educational opportunities for students and broaden Purdue's global impact.

The Plant Sciences Research and Education Pipeline, called PREP, is intended to further enhance Purdue's position as a world leader in plant sciences to help feed a rapidly growing world population. PREP will link discoveries in plant biology to commercially important crops, using automation to assess the performance of the crops under field conditions and moving the improved plants or plant products to commercialization. The initiative will also help recruit and train the next generation of talent moving into the plant sciences.

Tuinstra, the Wickersham Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Research, brings the right combination of skills and experiences, leadership and dedication to education to his new role, said Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the College of Agriculture.

"As a plant breeder, he works with scientists across the college, and he has licensed a number of plant traits for commercialization," Akridge said. "His research program is both national and international in scope, and he has built extensive partnerships with both industry and nongovernmental organizations.

"Mitch also is deeply committed to our teaching mission."

Tuinstra said a major component of PREP is developing students to become the next generation of plant scientists who will be charged with helping to solve such problems as global food insecurity as a world population increases from 7 billion people now to 9 billion projected by 2050.

“Really, it's all about the students,” he said. “One of the major areas of emphasis is in creating opportunities for students to do science in innovative, cutting-edge ways so they can bring valuable ideas into commercialization to help meet this challenge.”

Karen Plaut , senior associate dean for research and faculty affairs, said Tuinstra is a well-respected scientist with an appreciation and understanding of the various cross-disciplinary elements of the initiative.

"He has an internationally renowned research program and knows what it takes to work with industry and various agencies to leverage opportunities for commercialization of our scientists' discoveries," she said. "With this broad expertise, he will help weave together the many aspects of this project to make it a success."

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