Scientists placing a sensor into a plant pot

Accelerating Plant Sciences Innovation

A Media Kit for the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions

Through the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative, NC State is working with partners to solve grand agricultural challenges.

Our vision: To improve the world through plant science innovation

Our mission: To be the world’s premier plant sciences enterprise, accelerating plant science discovery, talent development and applied solutions to agricultural challenges through interdisciplinary, team-based science

Our guiding principle: To achieve excellence in the research we conduct, in teaching and training future plant science leaders, and in the extension of knowledge and science-based practices that improve outcomes for all

Our three areas of scientific focus: Plant improvement, data-driven plant science and resilient agricultural systems

North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative Website

We tackle grand food and agricultural challenges. Through interdisciplinary plant science research, education and outreach, we advance plant sciences to increase crop yields, create new plant varieties, extend growing seasons and enhance agricultural and environmental sustainability.

We redefine team science. Ensuring a healthier, well-fed world is a complex, multifaceted challenge requiring inclusive diversity of thought, experience and expertise. Our bold approach brings the brightest minds in academia, government and industry together to solve food and agricultural problems.

We activate data and technology. We harness the power of data and technology in all aspects of teaching, research and application to help scientists, educators and farmers make real-time, data-driven decisions. We develop and invest in research and outreach infrastructure that is flexible, expandable and upgradeable to accept and incorporate new technologies.

We extend knowledge and results. Thought leadership alone won’t feed, clothe, heal and fuel a growing population. We deliver tangible impacts. Through NC State Extension and international programs, our faculty relay agricultural challenges to N.C. PSI research teams and translate research-based knowledge into everyday solutions and practices.

We thrive through partnerships. Our Think and Do, business-friendly culture makes it easy for partners of all kinds to collaborate with us. We work side by side with leaders in the private, public and nonprofit sectors to propel cutting-edge research and scholarship that changes lives, creates jobs, improves outcomes for producers and brings discoveries to market.

We develop plant science leaders. PSI is committed to developing future plant sciences leaders equipped and ready to tackle stark challenges for food, agriculture, energy and the environment. We provide a unique training ground for a new breed of problem solvers. Our scholarship programs, internships and collaborative graduate fellowships pave the way for an agile future workforce.

Agriculture and agribusiness built North Carolina, and the NC PSI will keep it growing.

  • Food, fiber and forestry account for a sixth of the state’s income and employees.
  • North Carolina is the third most agriculturally diverse state. It produces a tremendous array of crops.
  • As home to three major research universities — NC State, Duke and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill — the state’s Research Triangle is rich in the kind of multidisciplinary expertise needed to make the region the world leader in plant sciences.
  • North Carolina is also home to more than 80 agtech companies.

N.C. Agtech and Agricultural Assets

  • NC State’s plant breeding program has a global footprint, developing a wide array of agronomic and horticultural crops and developing advanced breeding protocols used by breeders worldwide.
  • The University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and its government partner, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, operate a network of 18 geographically unique research stations having unique climates and soils. With these stations, we can mimic nearly every climate and growing condition in the world. We also conduct research on farm fields across the state and around the globe.
  • CALS has 10 field laboratories that include bioresource and genomic labs, greenhouses, a phytotron and a feed mill for research and education. It also is home to centers and consortia related to environmental farming systems, plants for human health, plant breeding, food animal nutrition, integrated fungal, pest and animal waste management — and more.
  • With agents serving all of the state’s 100 counties, NC State Extension provides farmers have direct access to information and counsel about the latest NC State developments in agricultural science and technology.
  • With 2-year, 4-year and graduate programs, CALS creates an active pipeline of talent for academia, industry and government.


The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences holds listening sessions, where partners expressed the need for stronger plant science research and innovation.

The state General Assembly approves funding for an economic feasibility study for a Plant Sciences Research Initiative.

The economic feasibility study states that North Carolina is primed to support a growing plant science industry: “North Carolina,” it says, “has a significant opportunity to be the global hub for advanced plant sciences research and for the application of that research to expanding agricultural productivity.”

Forty-five North Carolina agricultural organizations, large and small, invest a total of $9 million in the N.C. Plant Sciences Initiative.

March 2016
The people of North Carolina support the Connect NC Bond and in doing so dedicate $85 million to the NC State University Plant Sciences Building (PSB).
CALS begins convening thought leaders in the agricultural, life sciences, and biotechnology sectors to provide guidance and direction for the N.C. PSI through the creation of four task forces.

August 2016
CALS announces a $45 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, building off their initial $3 million investment, to fund the PSB. It is the largest single investment ever made in CALS — and among the largest in the university’s history.

September 2016
Flad Architects is hired to design the PSB.

May 2017
The N.C. PSI Task Forces announce key recommendations.for developing an organizational model and strategy that will be responsive to the ultimate goals of the initiative.

August 2017
With funding from the North Carolina Farm Bureau, Stephen Briggs is hired as launch director.

October 2017
Agricultural commodity groups plant stakes in the ground of the PSB site as a pledge of their support.

Spring 2018
A Center of Excellence for Regulatory Science in Agriculture (CERSA) at NC State is proposed as part of the N.C. PSI.

December 2018
CALS hosts “Stewards of the Future: Communicating with Plants,” a two-day conference on deciphering and exploiting plants’ chemical signals through electronics. This conference gave the NC State community a unique opportunity to host an international forum on a rapidly growing new field at the intersection of multiple disciplines. The event built on the earlier success of Engineering and Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty members who’d met at an N.C. PSI mashup. They went on to develop sensors to detect plant problems in realtime. Students involved in the partnership would go on to win an international award for their work.

January 2019
NC State’s Office of Research and Innovation holds town hall meetings to share details of a Game-Changing Research Incentive Program for the Plant Sciences Initiative, otherwise known as GRIP4PSI. The program, involving 6 of NC State’s colleges, will provide up to $650,000 over 3.5 years to up to three multidisciplinary project teams.

April 2019
DPR Construction begins constructing the PSB on Centennial Campus.

What's Next
Sept. 6, 2019
Official groundbreaking ceremony for the PSB

December 2019
Winners of the GRIP4PSI to be announced

Spring 2020 (anticipated)
N.C. PSI executive director hired

Late 2021
PSB to open

One corner of the Centennial Gateway against a cloud-filled sky

Have Questions?

Steve Briggs, launch director, 919-513-3874
Geoff Bock, project manager, 919-513-4284
Richard Campbell, CALS chief communications officer, 919-513-3126
Janine Brumfield, CALS communications specialist, 919-513-3127
Dee Shore, CALS communications specialist, 919-513-3117