On February 26, Purdue University’s Board of Trustees gave authorization to move forward on the Controlled Environment Phenotyping Facility, which will enhance plant sciences research and education in the College of Agriculture. Trustees also approved naming a field phenotyping facility currently under construction at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) and a contract extension with the firm that manages the university’s Center for Healthy Living. The Controlled Environment Phenotyping Facility approval makes it possible to move forward to plan, finance, construct, and award a construction contract for the estimated $6.25 million project, which will be located southwest of the Life Science Plant and Soils Laboratory along South Russell Street. At approximately 7,300 square feet, the state-of-the-art plant imaging facility will support the university’s existing strengths in the analysis of plant improvement research and boost the Purdue Moves initiative to expand plant sciences. Purdue has invested more than $20 million in the College of Agriculture’s efforts to enhance its plant sciences research and education. “Phenotyping involves measuring the physical characteristics of plants – such as leaf area and height – to help identify the most desirable traits to introduce into new crop varieties,” said Jay Akridge, Purdue’s Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture. “This facility, when combined with our facility under construction at ACRE, will give us truly state-of-the-art research and teaching capacity in an area that will lead to tremendous gains in creating improved plants to feed a growing global population.”
The Controlled Environment Phenotyping Facility will accommodate two large growth chambers linked to a series of automated imaging stations that will make it possible to image plants from any campus greenhouse or growth space. It also will allow for uniform growth conditions that are difficult to replicate in the field so researchers have precise control over experimental variables.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in February 2017 and be completed in January 2018. The project is being funded by departmental and university funds.
Trustees approved naming the second facility, located at ACRE, the Indiana Corn and Soybean Innovation Center in recognition of a combined $4 million investment in the facility from the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Marketing Council. The 28,000-square-foot facility, which was previously called the Agronomy Center Automated Phenotyping and Seed Processing Laboratory, is scheduled to open in early summer 2016 and will support research related to plant phenotyping and technology innovation.
The board also voted to approve a 16-month contract extension with CHS/Premise Health to operate the university’s Center for Healthy Living. A current three-year contract term concludes at the end of February, and the extension, which will cost approximately $4 million, offers the opportunity to extend the contract at a more favorable rate.
Trent Klingerman, Purdue’s vice president for human resources, said the current contract is about $3.45 million annually, compared to approximately $3 million annually under the extension.
The savings were achieved by adjusting staffing needs and reducing and fixing some contract costs. Also, Premise has agreed to put 50 percent of its management fee – about $500,000 – at risk, based on meeting metrics designed to increase utilization and improve health outcomes for employees and dependents. Klingerman said center accessibility also has been enhanced by increasing the number of available patient visits per day, adding evening hours and better aligning staffing with center needs.