Emerging Technology Fund Investment

Written by Cory Chandler

Date: Feb. 22, 2006
CONTACT: Cory Chandler, cory.chandler@ttu.edu

• Gov. Rick Perry has announced that Texas Tech will receive nearly $2 million from the $200 million Emerging Technology Fund, approved by the Legislature in 2005 to foster economic development and promote partnerships among researchers and the business community.

• The investment is the first fund allocation announced by Perry and will support the work of Dr. Thea Wilkins, newly recruited to Texas Tech from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Wilkins began working at Texas Tech Jan. 1 and will office in Texas Tech’s new Experimental Sciences Building.

• Wilkins will now anchor the International Center of Excellence in Agricultural Genomics and Biotechnology in Texas Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science.

• Biotechnologies developed by Wilkins’ research team will aid in creating commercial products ranging from flame-retardant fabrics to fabrics utilized in the defense industry.

• In May, 2005, Bayer CropScience and Texas Tech regents created an endowed professorship in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to expand molecular genetic enhancement research for major crops with an emphasis on cotton. This endowment was used in part to hire Wilkins.

• The center will create a partnership linking academic researchers and private companies to generate new business ventures in agricultural products. It will focus on creating cutting-edge genomics and biotechnology.

• Genomics is the study of how genes are arranged on chromosomes and how they function and interact to impact plant growth and development.

• Wilkins has generated more than 70 journal publications in the last five years and has generated more than $6.5 million in competitive research funding from sources including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture and private industry.

• Wilkins graduated in 1980 Summa Cum Laude from with a Bachelor of Science degree in plant biology from Georgia Southern University. She received her Master of Science degree in plant genetics and breeding from the University of Georgia in 1983 and in 1990, she received her Ph.D. in plant cell and molecular biology from Michigan State University.

• She is currently the Western Section Representative to the Executive Committee of the American Society of Plant Biologists, she is a member of the Executive Steering Committee for the International Cotton Genome Initiative, an editorial board member and former associate editor of the Journal of Cotton Science and a former chair of the Western Section American Society of Plant Biologists.

• Bayer CropScience, through its FiberMax? cotton seed brand, is the second largest cotton seed supplier in the United States. Bayer CropScience LP is the United States business of Bayer CropScience, which has its global headquarters in Monheim, Germany. The company is a world leader in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.

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