Jim and Michelle Marderosian, longtime supporters of Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES), pledged $1.5 million to fund a plant pathology lab in the new J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center. The lab will give students the opportunity to diagnose and explore plant diseases and disease control strategies.
This is one of 11 new labs going into the 75,567-square-foot Agricultural Technology center, each dedicated to an emerging issue in agriculture, nutrition and the food science industry. The center is expected to be completed in 2021.
CAFES said the Technology Center will serve as the new focal point for the department, as well as a highly visible example of applied interdisciplinary research in action.
The Marderosians both attended Cal Poly in the 1970s. They hope the gift will inspire others to invest in Cal Poly’s Learn by Doing philosophy.
“The plant pathology lab in the J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center will give Cal Poly students the ability to research different environmental affects, diseases and agricultural pest issues to compete with the ever-changing world conditions,” Jim said. “When students graduate, they will be prepared to handle the industry challenges happening now and in the future.”
Jim got his start by founding Bee Sweet Citrus in 1987 as an independent packer and shipper of California oranges. In the last 30 years, the company has expanded and grown to be a leader in the industry and now ships citrus products including navel and Valencia oranges, lemons, grapefruit and mandarins throughout the United States and overseas.
“The support of industry leaders such as Jim and Michelle Marderosian is essential to providing our students access to state-of-the-art technology and learning opportunities,” CAFES Dean Andrew Thulin said. “We are grateful that they share our vision of making our college the best in the nation.”