The societal stakes for assessing climate change impacts on agriculture and food supply are incredibly high. To meet this need, sophisticated computer models have been developed that simulate how crops grow and are influenced by their environment. They are like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, with a multitude of interacting factors that must be correctly assembled.
Most summer day camps rely on some standard activities to entertain their attendees—indoor and outdoor games, crafts, field trips, and snacks. The middle school girls who attended Pollen Power camp at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) in mid-July enjoyed all these activities, but with some unique touches: plants and insects, fiber optics and lenses, microscopes and green screen recordings all played a big role in the camp’s agenda.
In the summer of 2012, two undergraduate students tackled a problem that plant ecology experts had overlooked for 30 years. The students demonstrated that different plant species vary in how they take in carbon dioxide and emit water through stomata, the pores in their leaves. The data boosted the accuracy of mathematical models of carbon and water fluxes through plant leaves by 30 to 60 percent.
The researchers, based at the University of Illinois, report their findings in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.