Bee Sweet pledges $1.5 Million to Cal Poly plant pathology lab

Bee Sweet Citrus owners Jim and Michelle Marderosian have pledged $1.5 million to help fund a new plant pathology lab at the J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center at Cal Poly's College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

In the Applied Sciences Innovation Labs within the technology center, students will research new ways to diagnose and control the spread of plant diseases and agricultural pests while also examining the effect of environmental changes on different plants.

"The plant pathology lab in the J.G. Boswell Agricultural Technology Center will give Cal Poly students the ability to … compete with the ever-changing world conditions," Jim Marderosian said in a news release. "When students graduate, they will be prepared to handle the industry challenges happening now and in the future."

The new center will house 11 labs, each with its own research goals in agriculture, nutrition, and the food industry. Construction on the labs is expected to be completed in 2021.

The donation comes less than month after Bee Sweet Citrus donated $600,000 to install a packing line at Fresno State University with the goal of helping students in the Central Valley acquire the skillsets needed to enter the region's increasingly-automated packing industry.

"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," said Cal Poly Dean Andrew Thulin, in the release. "We are grateful that they share our vision of making our college the best in the nation."