CNAS is incredibly excited to have a brand-new, state-of-the-art greenhouse. We outgrew our old one. Now, we have a larger, compartmentalized and automated structure.
Dr. Laszlo Kovacs, professor of biology, says this is a needed addition. There is more botanical research in biology and chemistry.
“Plants are key to solving the most important problems humanity faces today: climate crisis, environmental pollution and food security of a rapidly growing human population,” Kovacs said.
What the greenhouse houses
There are a number of continuing and new research projects in the greenhouse. Spacing is important to keep the projects from mingling. This prevents unwanted environmental effects from confounding experimental results.
Adequate greenhouse facilities are also a precondition for obtaining grants to fund future plant research. There is now sufficient greenhouse to re-establish the botanical teaching collection of the biology department, an essential resource to demonstrate plant diversity to undergraduate classes.
- Kovacs is working on the conservation of wild crop relatives. He is also mapping genes that are important for plant adaptation and food security in agricultural production.
- Drs. La Toya Kissoon-Charles, assistant professor, and Alexander Wait, professor, both of biology and Dr. Cyren Rico assistant professor of chemistry are working on the impact of environmental pollutants, such as herbicides, nanomaterials and other chemicals on agricultural and aquatic plants.
- Dr. Avery Russell, assistant professor of biology is looking at the three-way interaction among plants pollinator insects and microbes.
- Dr. Babur Mirza, assistant professor of biology, along with Wait, is focusing on the impact of the microbiome of the plants and the soil on crop development and productivity.
- Michelle Bowe, senior instructor of biology, is studying the ecology and conservation status of plant species native to the Ozarks.
The entire botanical faculty are grateful for the support of Dr. Tamera Jahnke, dean of CNAS, Dr. Alicia Mathis, biology department head and Dr. Frank Einhellig, provost.
Finally, the faculty thank Planning, Design and Construction project manager Shanon Mitchel for seeing this construction process through with great care and biology post-doc Courtney Coleman who was instrumental at setting the greenhouse automation into motion during the first months of operation.
“Without their dedication to this construction project, the new greenhouse would not be a reality today,” Kovacs said.