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Dec. 2, 2010 Volume 32, No. 14

Crop research gets funding boost


Awards also create training opportunities for students

The National Science Foundation has awarded three researchers with the University of Missouri’s Interdisciplinary Plant Group  $3 million to study gene function in corn, soybeans and canola.

Gary Stacey, a professor of plant sciences, is principal investigator on a $1.5 million project to use soybean root hairs as a model system for studying cellular function in plants.

Scott Peck, associate professor of biochemistry in the Bond Life Sciences Center, will receive $600,000 for a four-year project that will aid in developing canola with greater tolerance to drought. 

James Birchler, a curators’ professor of biological sciences, will lead a multi-institutional project to study the functional genomics of chromosome centromeres in maize. Birchler will receive $900,000 to support MU’s portion of the project.

All three projects include training and outreach components. Stacey’s award will fund a new Freshman Research in Plant Science program that involves students in advanced genomics research. Peck will create a program to teach undergraduate students in the sciences how to communicate their research to the public. Birchler will build on an existing collaboration with the National Autonomous University of Mexico to provide an exchange program for students to do research in partner labs.