The Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex

In order to serve its mission to sustain life, The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) must transform into a more highly effective, relevant, efficient, and innovative college.

The college’s current greenhouse capabilities—designed using technology that is now 50 years out of date—are lacking basic features common among modern greenhouses. In areas where CFAES faculty and students have taken the lead, college facilities have lagged behind and might serve as a barrier to recruiting, securing, and maintaining diverse talent as well as leveraging student engagement and inclusion. 

CFAES’ accomplishments are exceptional, but imagine how a cutting-edge complex at the forefront of controlled environment food production research will make a difference. The focus in this facility—research of modern, sustainable food production technologies, including soilless and hydroponic production—will help distinguish Ohio State from other institutions.

“The focus is unique in this facility,” said Chieri Kubota, PhD, professor of controlled environment agriculture in the CFAES Department of Horticulture and Crop Science. “It also will be interdisciplinary research and innovation.” 

In short, CFAES needs a greenhouse of the future.

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  • Food can be produced year-round in areas that would not otherwise be suitable for farming: deserts, non-arable soil, etc.

  • As the amount of the world’s arable land continues to decrease, controlled environment agriculture can help meet the nutritional needs of a growing global population.

  • Perishable crops can be raised closer to their point of consumption, reducing food waste and greenhouse gases associated with long-distance transportation.

  • The increasing number of people moving toward densely-populated areas can be better fed.

  • Growers have more quality control over production and plant nutrients, so the risk of foodborne illnesses can be reduced, crop yield can be increased, and specific flavors can be induced.

  • Vegetables and fruits can be grown sustainably.


A priority for CFAES is transforming the college’s physical environment to better support and inspire work. Part of a $100 million investment in college infrastructure is taking place at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory. Waterman is in a unique position to serve as a hub for science and public engagement related to the food system, agriculture, and natural resources. This requires modern facilities. The forward-looking Controlled Environment Food Production Research Complex is key to supporting the college’s goals for Waterman. 

The complex will be a truly transformational resource for Ohio State, as well as for the global and local communities that CFAES serves. Its modern resources will better equip CFAES faculty, staff, and students to take on the grand challenges facing humanity and the world. A recent, transformative gift from the Nationwide Foundation—a partner of the college for 50 years—includes $5 million to support new facilities and infrastructure at Waterman, some of which will be used to help construct this complex. A previous $2.8 million gift from Nationwide helped fund a feasibility study of the property.

“We are deeply fortunate to have partners like Nationwide and the Nationwide Foundation committed to advancing and sustaining life across Ohio and beyond,” said Cathann A. Kress, vice president for agricultural administration and dean of CFAES. “Join us in our mission: We sustain life.”

CFAES Office of Advancement 614-292-0473

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