As part of the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program, NC State University has hired four outstanding faculty to form a new interdisciplinary faculty cluster on “Emerging Plant Disease and Global Food Security”. Understanding the dynamics of and managing emerging plant diseases requires a collaborative approach with expertise in epidemiology, population biology, microbial evolution, geospatial modeling and bioinformatics. The new cluster faculty will develop basic knowledge in these areas and work collaboratively with several existing clusters to advance NC State University as a leader in addressing the challenges of emerging plant diseases and global food security.
The faculty cluster will develop new knowledge to understand the fundamental basis of emerging diseases caused by pathogens of plants – including the development of tools – enabling a more rapid response to contain and limit potential damage by emerging threats. The cluster will study plant pathogens and their arthropod vectors that transmit them in nature, in agriculture, and post-harvest making linkages from genomes to ecosystem processes. The cluster expertise is in the areas of:
- Integration of ecology, epidemiology, population genomics or host-microbe interactions from the molecular to population levels to investigate the biology of emerging plant disease agents, including potential vectors, that threaten local and global food security,
- Engineering next generation devices for real-time detection of plant pathogens or pests that vector them (e.g., isothermal nucleic acid amplification assays; ligand binding-based methods; novel biosensors, nanodevices; volatile detection apparatus, or three-dimensional goggles) and deploy sensors using robotic devices or unmanned aerial vehicles.
- Data science focused on conducting cross-cutting research in population genomics, epidemiology and the evolution of emerging crop pests and pathogens using molecular, bioinformatics, and evolutionary tools to track sources of disease outbreaks at multiple levels of scale
- Geospatial analytics for spatially-explicit prediction of transmission pathways and deploying rapid response strategies to detect and limit potential damage by emerging threats including approaches that leverage frontiers in citizen science, crowdsourcing with mobile technologies, and engaging stakeholders
The Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program is bringing some of the best and brightest minds to join NC State University’s interdisciplinary efforts to solve some of the globe’s most significant problems. Guided by a strong strategic plan and an aggressive vision, the cluster hiring program is adding new faculty members in select fields to add more breadth and depth to NC State’s already-strong efforts. The Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program marks a major initiative of the university’s strategic plan, “The Pathway to the Future.” We invite you to explore more information about the Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence Program and this cluster at http://workthatmatters.ncsu.edu/ .