Climate, Food, Community

Collaboration focuses on environment and Missouri agriculture

A five-year grant to study climate variability and its potential agricultural, ecological and social impacts in Missouri has been awarded to the University of Missouri by the National Science Foundation.

“The Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and Community” is a $20 million effort to fund new research projects.  It also supports workforce development in science and technology education; bioinformatics training for women, minorities and people with disabilities; and job training.

“Missouri’s economy is driven by our diverse natural and agricultural ecosystems, which are affected by climate variability,” said John Walker, professor and director of the MU Division of Biological Sciences and principal investigator of the project. “The Transect project, which capitalizes on our state’s core research strength in the plant sciences, will model and predict short- and long-term changes in climate and determine the impact on these important plant ecosystems, as well as on the communities that rely on them.”

Teaming with Walker will be 10 MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources faculty. They are: Patrick Market, professor of atmospheric science; Jason Hubbart, associate professor of forest hydrology and water quality; Keith Goyne, associate professor of environmental soil chemistry; Felix Fritsche, plant sciences associate professor; Charles Nilon, professor of fisheries and wildlife; Sonja Wilhelm Stanis, assistant professor of parks, recreation and tourism; Mark Morgan, associate professor of parks, recreation and tourism; and Christine Elsik, animal science associate professor.

71993624[1]Teams for Research and Community

The project will create four interdisciplinary teams in the areas of climate, plant biology, community resilience and education/outreach. These teams will draw from faculty in all four University of Missouri System campuses—MU, Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Missouri-St. Louis. The Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center, Washington University, Lincoln University, the St. Louis Science Center and St. Louis University also will be involved.

“The collaboration among institutions as well as scientific disciplines will help drive the state’s research infrastructure and competitiveness,” said Hank Foley, executive vice president for academic affairs, research and economic development with the UM System and senior vice chancellor for research and graduate studies at MU. “It also will provide opportunities to move research from the lab to the marketplace and thus spur innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is honored to play a major role in this pivotal endeavor,” said James Carrington, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center. “By combining so much of our state’s research capacity and infrastructure in the atmospheric and plant sciences, the Missouri Transect will drive innovation, train a diversified workforce, and catalyze commercial development in areas that are so critical to Missouri’s future.”

“This project exemplifies the national imperative to engage in cutting edge research, provide educational opportunities for future generations of scientists, stimulate the economy and create jobs,” said Denise Barnes, Head of NSF’s EPSCoR program. “Additionally, the project is impressive in its complexity, state-wide scope and integration of individual researchers, institutions, and organizations; as well as in their roles in developing the diverse, well-prepared, STEM-enabled workforce necessary to sustain research competitiveness and economic growth in Missouri.”