Colin Scanes, Plant Sciences Institute, (515) 294-1823
Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-4607
Manjit Misra, Seed Science Center, (515) 294-6821
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University President Martin Jischke announced today (Feb. 15) a $5 million gift that will advance programs of the Seed Science Center, a center within the Plant Sciences Institute. The gift is from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

The gift will be used to create an endowed chair in seed science, a visiting scientist program and a new Molecular Seed Quality Assurance program. The gift, part of the ISU Foundation's Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best, was announced by Jischke at the 22nd annual Seed Technology Conference, held at ISU.

"The gift will further our vision for ISU's Seed Science Center to be the global center of excellence in seed science, seed technology and seed systems," Jischke said. "Our vision goes hand-in-hand with Iowa's aspiration to become the food capital of the world."

One of eight centers of Iowa State's Plant Sciences Institute, the Seed Science Center was established in 1987 to research new technology, conduct third-party seed testing, facilitate undergraduate courses in seed science and transfer science-based information to industry and policymakers worldwide.

"This gift will enable us to develop standardized, science-based tests to facilitate the movement of seed worldwide," said Manjit Misra, director of the Seed Science Center. The center also will conduct basic and applied research at the DNA-level to understand why seeds perform the way they do.

The endowed chair and visiting scientist program will significantly enhance the center's programming, Misra said.
"The endowed chair will be a world-renowned seed scientist or leader in industry or public affairs. We anticipate that this individual will act as a lightning rod for attracting significant additional resources and opportunities for ISU and the center," he said.

The visiting scientists will conduct research, give guest lectures and provide scientific information to industry, students and the public, Misra added.

Research centers within ISU's Plant Sciences Institute focus on a variety of areas related to the plant sciences, including bioinformatics, plant genomics, designer crops and gene research, said Colin Scanes, interim director of the institute.

"The institute builds on Iowa State's existing strengths in plant sciences to develop world leadership in enhancing the value of crops and supplying value-added plant materials to new and expanding markets," Scanes said.

The anonymous gift is the most recent to advance Iowa State's Plant Sciences Institute, said Tom Mitchell, ISU Foundation president. Previous gifts have established the Laurence H. Baker Center for Bioinformatics and Biological Statistics and the Roy J. Carver Co-Laboratory. Previous Campaign Destiny gifts also funded a building addition to the Seed Science Center.

"The success of Campaign Destiny has been overwhelming as our alumni and corporate friends have responded with record-setting commitments to help Iowa State achieve its aspiration to become the nation's premier land-grant university, said Mitchell.

The $425-million Campaign Destiny is the largest fund-raising initiative in Iowa State history. The five-year campaign officially ends June 30.


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