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Bottom photo (L-R): Mun Choi, Latha Ramchand, Chris Chinn, Patricia Okker, Bob Sharp, Christopher Daubert, Don Cupps and David Steelman (Chair, Board of Curators).

Top right photo (L-R): Michelle Brooks, David Braun, John Walker and Jim English.

On Saturday, September 29th a “Topping Off” ceremony was held to celebrate a milestone in the construction of the University of Missouri’s new Plant Growth Research Facility. The new facility will include nearly 23,000 square feet of greenhouse space in three ranges, and more than 9,300 square feet for controlled environment plant growth chambers and seed drying and storage.

Dr. Bob Sharp, Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG) Director and Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences, welcomed nearly 130 guests to the event. Speakers at the event included:

  • Dr. Mun Choi, University of Missouri System President
  • Chris Chin, Director, Missouri Department of Agriculture
  • Donald Cupps, Curator Emeritus, University of Missouri Board of Curators
  • Dr. Latha Ramchand, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, University of Missouri
  • Dr. Christopher Daubert, Vice Chancellor and Dean, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri
  • Dr. Patricia Okker, Dean, College of Arts and Science, University of Missouri

Following the program, all attendees were invited to participate in a beam signing to commemorate the event.

The event also featured displays from students and postdocs to demonstrate and discuss the types of research that will be carried out in the new facility. Participating labs included; Melissa Mitchum’s lab (Division of Plant Sciences), the Root Drought Team at the University of Missouri (Division of Plant Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, Division of Biological Sciences, USDA-ARS, School of Journalism, and Department of Health Management and Informatics), and Antje Heese’s lab (Department of Biochemistry). This new facility arose from a 2006 review of the current and future plant growth needs at MU. In 2015, with support from the MU administration, a committee was assembled to begin designing the building for the needs of the plant biology community. This committee included:

  • David Braun, Professor of Biological Sciences, Director of the Missouri Maize Center
  • Michelle Brooks, Greenhouse Coordinator, Division of Plant Sciences
  • Jim English, Director, Division of Plant Sciences
  • Bob Sharp, IPG Director
  • John Walker, Director, Division of Biological Sciences
  • Jude Wawrzyniak, Campus Facilities Project Manager

Construction began in September of 2017. Completion is anticipated in Spring 2019.

A Topping Off ceremony is traditionally held when the top-most structure of a building is completed. An evergreen tree, symbolizing good luck, continued growth, and a safe construction environment, is often included in Topping Off events and participants of the celebration received a sapling to take home.

More photos of the event can be found on the IPG Flickr page.