Recently, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton sat down with Dr. Adrian Percy, Executive Director of the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative, via Zoom and filmed the tenth episode in a video series called Critical Conversations. In this series, Scott talks with professionals about economic development issues affecting the state.
Dr. Percy has over 30 years of experience as a leader in agricultural research and became the first executive director of the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative in November 2021.
The North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative is bringing together the brightest minds in academia, government and industry to drive vital research and innovation that increases crop yields, creates new varieties, extends growing seasons, enhances agricultural and environmental sustainability, and produces new and improved technology.
The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded a total of $48 million, the largest single contribution ever made to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and one of the largest in N.C. State history, to support the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative building on the university’s campus. This state-of-the-art facility will be completed in April 2022.
Dr. Percy talked about what the PSI hopes to achieve. What is unique about the initiative is to bring together interdisciplinary projects through scientists from different backgrounds to work on common problems. The PSI will work with scientists both in academia, from around the world, as well as industry scientists. The teams will work on issues such as creating new breeding varieties to help them be more resistant to field conditions. With agriculture being the top industry in the state, Dr. Percy said that many of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 North Carolina counties will benefit from the solutions for farmers and the agribusiness community.
Dr. Percy said the PSI will focus on five platforms: plant improvement, resilient agricultural systems, education and outreach, data-driven plant sciences, and translational research. He explained that the translational research platform will be one of the most important strategies to help disseminate information from the growers to the scientists so they can work directly on the issues growers are facing. The director of translational research will connect with farmers and other growers as well as agriculture extension agents across the state. Dr. Percy also stated that a grower advisory council will be formed to help create solutions to common problems.
Although the building is not yet complete, Dr. Percy said there are many interdisciplinary research projects underway. The PSI has raised over $100 million in funding to help solve some worldwide issues such as crop resiliency, drought tolerance, and sweet potato crops.
Critical Conversations is a feature in the Golden LEAF newsletter every month. The next edition will be in our March 10th edition of LEAF Lines.