The Horticultural Hats of Brandon Huber
Brandon Huber, now the lead plant scientist with Ag Eye Technologies, has worn many hats during his time with the Department of Horticultural Science. Some of his many achievements include awards for horticulture controlled environment research, growing and sharing Lupin the corpse flower, and competitive gardening which includes submitting some massive pumpkins and watermelons to the NC State Fair.
Huber was often found in the lab, studying indoor controlled environmental horticulture and how to enhance the density of tomato seedlings using the far-red light spectrum, under the direction of Ricardo Hernandez. His research earned him national recognition where he was awarded second place for his oral presentation to the American Horticultural Science Society (ASHS).
When Huber joined NC State for his master of science degree, he brought a corpse flower, Amorphophallus titanum, with him. The exotic corpse flower, named Lupin, took 13 years for its first bloom and has bloomed three times since 2016. Huber educated countless guests on titan arum fun facts and these rare spectacles brought thousands of horticulture fans together.
To unwind or to think about the next plant science breakthrough, Huber hits the garden. In fact, Brandon Huber is also nationally recognized for competitively growing giant vegetables that include gourds, pumpkins and watermelons. Two personal records include a 170-pound watermelon at NC State and a 667-pound pumpkin in his home state of Pennsylvania.
What has been your favorite memory at NC State and CALS?
From my time at NC State, I have many memories. Many of my memories include those of my time being active in multiple clubs and organizations on campus where I’ve met many friends. I’ve also enjoyed being able to cheer on the wolfpack in the student section at football and basketball games which was always a fun time. I also enjoyed the research I’ve conducted in my program and being able to present the findings nationally and internationally.
What has been your greatest achievement or accomplishment during your time at NC State and CALS?
My greatest achievement at NC State was reaching two academic milestones; completing my master of science and then continuing and completing my doctorate. Looking back at it, it’s been a long seven-year journey with many ups and downs along the way, but I wouldn’t have traded it. Next, I must mention the blooming “Lupin”, the Amorphophallus titanum, a giant corpse flower. This plant joined me at NC State when I came on for grad school, and bloomed a total of three times during my studies, drawing thousands of people to see and enjoy the bloom. These blooms are rare, and it took the plant 13 years to bloom its first time.
What impact do you hope to have in your chosen field?
I hope to contribute the knowledge I’ve gained to make a difference in horticulture. My MS and PhD earned at NC State provide a unique multidisciplinary focus which I believe will make valuable contributions for multiple areas for the future of agriculture.
What has your final year been like at NC State and CALS? How have you overcome recent challenges?
My final year of my PhD posed challenges in writing my dissertation, specifically that being separated from the liveliness of campus life as an outgoing person. During the beginning of the pandemic, I was at the tail end of my PhD in the heavy writing stage. Writing during this time made many days feel the same. To break up the day, I became more active outdoors and spent more time gardening, particularly growing giant produce. Growing plants has always brought me peace.
What are you most grateful for from the university and CALS as you are about to earn your degree?
I am grateful for the sense of community and the support in CALS and the university. In addition, being a part of the Department of Horticultural Sciences was a clear example of this, as it’s been my other home and felt like family over my 7-year journey. I not only earned a degree, but I’ve gained friends, life lessons, and experiences that will always be a part of me.
What are your career plans post-graduation?
I recently started working at Ag Eye Technologies as their lead plant scientist. We are working on AI applications to improve indoor agriculture. I am applying my expertise in controlled environment agriculture to solve problems through technological advancements.