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Wood Substrates Lab


I am extremely proud, pleased, and excited to be a tenured faculty member in one of the flagship horticulture departments in the country. I currently have an 85:15 teaching/research appointment in ornamental horticulture. I teach three plant identification courses and an Introduction to Horticulture course for non-majors. I am fortunate to be able to teach in both the four-year Bachelor of Science degree program and in the two-year Associate’s program (Agricultural Institute).

Brian Jackson, Ph.D.

Research Program

My research appointment focuses on the development (engineering, construction, analysis, and characterization) of traditional and new substrates/potting soils for horticultural crop production. Substrate Science is the preeminent discipline upon which all of the horticulture originates…literally. Upon arrival at NCSU (2010) I partnered with Dr. Bill Fonteno to continue the long and reputable legacy of the NCSU Substrate Science research program that 1) meets the ever-changing needs of our industry (growers and substrate manufacturers); 2) aids in the development and utilization of new products and opportunities for the retail and the professional horticulture market’s; 3) is based on solid science, innovation, and discovery; and 4) trains current and future industry professionals. The home of the Substrate Science program is found in the Horticultural Substrates Laboratory here at NCSU. Started in the 1980’s by a group of floriculture and nursery horticulture faculty, it continues today working to solve problems and create opportunities for the horticultural industry


Teaching Program & Philosophy

“Think And Do” became NC State University’s optimistic mantra in 2011 after the adoption of a new strategic plan entitled “The Pathway to the Future”. This strategic plan will set the course for how we (as a university) will continue our quest to “invent the future” by maintaining our duties to solve real-world problems, create new technologies, and provide the exceptional education and training of our students. To focus the efforts of our university moving forward in the next decade, NC State has adopted a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) entitled “Critical & Creative Thinking” as the core mission to enhance undergraduate education and the overall experiences that our students deserve, expect, and demand.

plant identification class

As a young professor, I am so delighted that the goals and mission of our university are fully aligned with my own. I was fortunate to study under a Ph.D. advisor who taught me the value and importance of being able to “Think” and how the implications of not doing so can not only be a detriment to myself, but to others around me. Since 2009 I have spent time on the first day in every course I teach to share with my students the importance of “THINKING” about everything they do in life, in and out of the classroom. I wholeheartedly believe that if I can motivate students to think critically, independently, and proactively then I can not only set-the-stage for a dynamic and interactive classroom environment but I can also set them on a course of academic, professional, and personal success. There is not a day that goes by that I do not spend some time in thought, pondering how I can be more effective in teaching my students to the best of my talents and abilities. As I reflect on my teaching methods and duties and how they contribute to the mission of NC State University, I realize that I have the opportunity and responsibility to teach three different types/levels of students: 1) undergraduates; 2) graduate teaching assistants who help teach my courses, and; 3) graduate students in my research program. All have different needs, expectations, and performance goals, but ALL are students nonetheless, seeking knowledge and skills. At all student levels, I strive to push them to achieve levels of success beyond what they think possible and beyond the textbook into real-life practical applications while providing the tools, strategies for success, encouragement, and genuine interest in them and their success that they need to grow and mature. With all my abilities I try to instill in my students the belief that “Success Breeds Motivation” and I work to help each one have that realization….that they can achieve anything they set their minds too.

Substrates class observation and analysis
Students engaging in an outdoor laboratory.
Dr. Jackson encourages students to “THINK BIG”

It is my honor to serve NC State University each and every day of my life in hopes of giving back as much as I can to this great institution that has given (and continues to give) me more than I ever imagined possible. My passion and endless enthusiasm for life, my alma mater (NCSU), my career field, and the future of our great state empowers me to give all I have to my students and always push them to “THINK” in the betterment of themselves and others. Simply put, one of the core elements in my teaching philosophy is “I’m not here to tell students what to think, I’m just trying to show them how.” Every ounce of my being is devoted to the art, craft, and passion for teaching the bright and energetic minds that I am able to engage and mentor. I do not have a “job” but merely a gift and love for something that I know I was meant to do. I take great pride in the fact that my efforts, though not perfect and far from the best, are well-received by my students and they go on to be independent thinkers and doers at this university and beyond.

Prospective Students

NC State University bell tower
NC State University bell tower

I am always on the lookout for highly qualified students who are passionate, engaged, self-motivated, proactive, and who are interested (or maybe interested) in pursuing a graduate degree. If you are interested in horticultural substrate science, floriculture/nursery production, or other similar areas of ornamental horticulture please contact me. Please browse the research and publication links above to learn more about my research program. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like additional information.

I am a proud alumnus of three great institutions: NC State University (B.S. 2002), Auburn University (M.S. 2005) and Virginia Tech (Ph.D. 2008).