Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Insect communities are well known to exhibit social behavior, often accomplishing in groups extraordinary tasks of building and cooperation far disproportionate to their individual size and brainpower.

Peter Raven (left), the President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein (right), CEO of Roeslein Associates
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

People in urban areas may not think about the importance of prairies. But beyond the asphalt, concrete and glass of the city, is a country rich in prairie land.

But, what is the importance of prairies and how do they affect our everyday lives?

On Thursday's “St. Louis on the Air” Peter Raven, president emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and Rudi Roeslein, CEO of Roeslein Associates, joined host Don Marsh to discuss the role of prairies conserving of natural ecosystems and their importance for production of next-generation biofuels.

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
mshipp via Flickr

Several factors are helping St. Louis make a name for itself as a startup city.

“First of all is talent,” Thomas Osha told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. Osha is managing director of innovation and economic development for Wexford Science + Technology. “Talent trumps everything. That’s why it is the fuel of entrepreneurial activity. Innovation is totally a social enterprise, so the more folks you can bring into that orbit, the more chance you have of being able to scale those entrepreneurial businesses.”

Melanie Bernds, Danforth Plant Science Center

"Precision agriculture" is the trend to watch at this year's Ag Innovation Showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

The Danforth Center’s Chief Operator Officer, Sam Fiorello, said that's a change for the international gathering.

When the Showcase started in 2009, most of the participating start-ups were using genetic engineering to develop crops that could resist pests, drought or other agricultural stresses.

This year, none of the products presented involve GMOs.    

Mikhail Berezin, Washington University

Updated 8/6/14:

The National Science Foundation has awarded $20 million to academic and research institutions across Missouri to study climate change.

Five states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, have received one of the NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grants.

Courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Out of all possible locations in the United States, German seed company KWS chose St. Louis as the site of its North American headquarters. What made St. Louis stand out from the rest?

According to Donald Danforth Plant Science Center President James Carrington and COO Sam Fiorello, KWS was attracted to the St. Louis region because of its community spirit and because of the world-class research facilities available at the Bio-Research & Development Growth Park (BRDG Park) on the Danforth Center campus.

Courtesy of Cortex

BioSTL is launching a variety of programs to bring more women and minorities into the field of biosciences. 

The group received a $100,000 donation earlier this year from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Some of that money is being used to expand the St. Louis Bioscience Inclusion Initiative, which started in the late 2000s.

Commentary: The Power Of WE

Jun 17, 2014
Sam Fiorello
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Years ago when I lived and worked in Washington, D.C., the city was crippled by an intense January snowstorm. My office was a short walk from my apartment so I was able to salvage at least an abridged day of work. While walking home, with snow still falling heavily, I came upon a homeless man named Charlie whom I had seen almost daily in the same spot. When I stopped to ask Charlie if he was OK, he stood transfixed, looking at a few flakes of newly fallen snow on his gloved hand. Charlie smiled at me and said, "Isn't it amazing? Individually these flakes are so fragile.

Courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

KWS, a German agricultural company, is opening a research center at BRDG Park in the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s campus.

The company, which specializes in plant breeding, has 4,800 employees in 70 countries. The new facility will be its first molecular plant research space in North America, hiring 25 positions in the first year and another 75 in following years.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Jay Nixon once again signaled that he might strike down school transfer legislation that passed out of the General Assembly last week. 

Provided by Ms Lyons

The seeds for the St. Louis biotech boom began as early as 1998 when St. Louis leaders recognized a perfect confluence of key ingredients for growth in plant and life sciences: the geographic location in the nation’s cropland; an abundance of scientific research institutions, including Washington University, St. Louis University and the Columbia and St. Louis campuses of the University of Missouri; and many successful scientific companies such as Monsanto, Sigma-Aldrich, Novus and Covidien.

Provided by the center

Condensed from the State of the Center report to the community.

When we started, I dreamed, perhaps romantically, that our center would be part of a major human adventure of the 21st century. We would try to make the most of the wonderful human desire to know how the world really works, in our case how plants really work. This drive to understand, shaped through its evermore powerful modern offspring, science, can help hold off potential environmental disaster. In doing so, we hoped also to bring benefits and perhaps even a little credit to our home community.

(Courtesy of the Danforth Plant Science Center)

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center announced Friday it has hired four new lead researchers.

Each of the new hires will have a team of at least another 10 scientists working for them, which means the research center could soon add an additional 40 new positions.

Danforth president Jim Carrington says the new scientists will focus on new technologies such as robotics, as well as bolstering the center’s existing research.  

(Courtesy of the Danforth Plant Science Center)

The Danforth Plant Science Center is adding another 79,000 square feet and eventually another 100 jobs.

The St. Louis research institute announced the $45 million dollar project Monday.

The center’s president, Dr. James Carrington, says the new space will be more flexible.

He says that that means cabinets and benches won’t be bolted down, giving room for new research that include automation and robotics.

Last summer’s drought in the United States, and particularly here in the Midwest, would lead one to ask if there is enough water to meet the world’s needs.  According to Dr. Roberto Lenton, Professor of Biological Systems Engineering and Executive Director of the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the answer is “yes.”

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Sandra Fluke is an attorney and women’s rights activist.

One year ago this month, Fluke was a law school student at Georgetown University and found herself immersed in a contentious national debate over the role of contraceptive coverage and whether coverage should be mandatory.  Opponents of mandatory coverage cited religious objections.

Sandra Fluke testified about the issue before Democrats in Congress.  After that, conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” and made other derogatory comments.

Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

George Will is a Pulitzer Prize-winning political journalist and author.  He is perhaps most well-known for his conservative columns in the Washington Post, which have appeared in the paper since 1974.

Will is scheduled to deliver the fall 2012 keynote speech for the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University.

(via Flickr/Alternative Heat)

The National Science Foundation has awarded a local researcher $1.3 million to study the genetics of how corn plants take up nutrients.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to grow the ubiquitous crop.

Ivan Baxter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist and assistant member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will lead the research.

Flickr/ChrisEaves.com

Quinn and lawmakers reach deal on state facilities

A budget deal reached among Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and lawmakers will save seven state facilities and the jobs at those locations, at least for now.  The plan won General Assembly approval Tuesday.  Quinn had targeted a handful of developmental centers, prisons and psychiatric hospitals for shutdown after the legislature failed to provide enough money to keep them operating. 

Quinn’s budget director, David Vaught, says the deal to shift money in the budget is a better solution…

Courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was in St. Louis again Tuesday touting the state's growing biotech sector and says a new package of economic incentives will continue to bring more hi-tech jobs to the state.

Nixon was in St. Louis County to welcome SyMyCo, the latest tenant of BRDG Park, the research and development wing of the Danforth Plant Science Center.

The company's President Mike Amaranthus says $1 million in quality jobs tax credits as well as a $250,000 low-interest loan were a key part of their decision to locate in Missouri.

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