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The STEPS Seminar Speaker Series Welcomes Director Jason White of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Nanotechnology-enabled agriculture:  A path to global food security?

Jason C. White

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, 123 Huntington Street, New Haven CT 06504 USA

Low use and delivery efficiency of conventional agrichemicals is a significant impediment to maintaining global food security, particularly given that a 60-70% increase in food production is needed by 2050 to support the projected population. Further confounding these efforts is a changing climate, which may force increased cultivation of crops under more marginal and stress-inducing conditions. Thus, novel and sustainable strategies for enhancing food production are needed all along the “farm-to-fork” continuum. We have focused on using nanotechnology to increase the delivery efficiency and efficacy of nutrients and pesticides. For example, given the known role of micronutrients in plant growth and defense against both abiotic and biotic stresses, we have demonstrated potential of nanoscale nutrients (CuO, CuS, S, Si) to enhance nutritional status and disease resistance, significantly alleviating damage caused by the fungal and viral pathogens, resulting in enhanced growth and yield. Importantly, disease suppression is largely a function of modulated plant nutrition and disease resistance and not direct toxicity against the pathogen. Separately, we are also looking at novel biopolymer-based nanocomposites as a means to enhance the precision of phosphorus and pesticide delivery. Other studies are focused on the use of nanoscale nutrient metal oxides to enhance photosynthetic efficiency under stressed and non-stressed conditions. Across all of these projects, it is clear that the ability to effectively tune nanoscale material structure and composition will be critical to maximizing positive impacts, including significantly reduced amounts of agrichemical use.


Bio- Dr. Jason C. White is the Director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the oldest Agricultural Experiment Station and his research program focuses food safety and security, as well as sustainable nano-enabled agriculture.  Dr. White was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2021 and is a member of the European Science Foundation College of Experts.  He is a Commissioned Official of the US FDA and a Clarivate Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher in 2020-2022. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University in 1997 and has secondary appointments in the Yale University School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture.