WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi, assistant professor in the Purdue Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, has received a New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

The award is given to scientists working on creative research projects that address the growing global demand for food by transforming the way food is grown, processed and distributed.

It will provide Iyer-Pascuzzi with $100,000 per year for three years, with an annual $100,000 cash match from Purdue for a total award of $600,000.

Iyer-Pascuzzi’s research investigates the mechanisms that plant roots use to perceive and respond to the environment. She will use funding from the award to study how plant roots mediate disease resistance, using tomatoes and a soil-borne bacterial pathogen as a model.

Her research will explore which genes are associated with root-mediated resistance, how diseases change root architecture and whether roots and shoots communicate with each other to suppress disease symptoms.

“This prestigious award is a much-deserved recognition of Dr. Iyer-Pascuzzi’s hard work and creativity,” said Chris Staiger, head of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology and distinguished professor of biological sciences.

“Her fundamental work will help us better understand how plants respond to pathogenic microbes and has enormous potential for elucidating how crops might be engineered for durable resistance to pests. With this award, she is poised to take her research program to the next level and to continue training the next generation of scientists in cutting-edge technologies and educating the public about plant biotechnology.”

The award funds early career faculty and their scientific groups to conduct research that will enhance global food availability and security. Awardees combined innovative research with a commitment to mentoring and inspiring future generations of agricultural and food scientists.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization established by the 2014 farm bill that aims to build partnerships to support innovative science that addresses food and agriculture challenges and advances the sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population.

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