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University of Missouri

Plant Science Partners

MU, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center to hire four joint faculty.

mizzou danforth

R. Bowen Loftin, MU chancellor, exchanges pens with James C. Carrington, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, after signing an agreement to hire four joint researchers. Tom Hiles, MU vice chancellor of advancement, is shown in the background.

When Kara Riggs, a fifth-year doctoral student in plant sciences and former intern at the not-for-profit Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, heard about the new agreement between the University of Missouri and the Danforth Center, she thought, “Thank you! Finally!”

She knew both institutions do cutting-edge research on drought tolerance, sustainability and how to decrease food insecurity across the globe. Both value their internal collaborative cultures. And although both have been partners since the Danforth Center formed 16 years ago, the practical connections between them have been sporadic. With a new agreement signed Nov. 17 at the Danforth Center, however, they have cemented their partnership in a tangible way.

mizzou danforth

About 100 alumni, friends, MU administrators and others gathered at the St. Louis Jefferson Club reception at the Danforth Center where MU’s agreement with the center was announced.

Under the agreement, signed at a St. Louis Jefferson Club reception at the center, the two institutions will hire four researchers with joint appointments at Danforth and MU. Two will be housed at Danforth and two at MU.

The combination of MU’s and Danforth’s resources and research expertise will help recruit from other universities quality midcareer or senior-level faculty with established research programs, says James C. Carrington, president of the Danforth Center.

The hope is that the four hires will serve as a bridge for building collaboration among other MU professors with other Danforth researchers, says Jack Shultz, director of the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at MU. “We’ve already had great people here and great people there,” Schultz said after the signing. “Getting them to talk together is where the magic happens.”

Excitement about the signing was palpable at the event, and Carrington and MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin spoke about the impact they expect to make together.

Carrington said he was impressed by how quickly Loftin saw an opportunity to do something big and moved the idea to completion. “We’re thrilled that the chancellor is moving this forward with such urgency,” he said.

In a broader sense, Carrington sees the partnership as furthering the center’s mission to establish the greater St. Louis region, including Columbia, as the foremost center for plant science innovation in the world.

It’s a vision Loftin shares. And the joint hires, if successful, are just the first step in growing a collaboration that will allow each institution to strengthen the other. “We can dominate the world of plant science,” he said.