Building a Vibrant Transdisciplinary
Research Community

CROPPS aims to build a research community that unites faculty and trainees from the life sciences, engineering, computer science, and social sciences. Together, we will pursue scientific discoveries, technological innovations, and social, ethical, and policy questions related to plant life. We will also explore the application of CROPPS research to agriculture and to the management of natural environments.

Through research efforts and other initiatives, we will define the transdiscipline of digital biology.

Our vision centers on the development of biological and technological innovations to open efficient, two-way communication between plants and people.

Our goal is to harness this human-plant dialogue into an Internet of Living Things (IoLT).

Our priority is to educate trainees—from undergraduates through postdoctoral researchers—to be innovative thinkers, practitioners, and leaders in this new transdiscipline, whether they ultimately choose academic or non-academic careers.

As we pursue this broad vision, we will engage with diverse sectors of the public to understand their perceptions, questions, and visions for our research agenda. We will use this understanding to shape our vision, priorities, and targets for translation of CROPPS discoveries and innovations.

CROPPS research will foster the emergence of digital biology through interconnected teams organized into four broad research themes: Plant Innovations, Plant Communications, Plant Systems, and Public Engagement.

Photo by Lindsay France

Research Themes

Plant Innovations

Innovating Methods for Plant Communication Technology (IMPACT)

The ICPP team explores plant biotechnology; the engineering of materials, devices, and automation; computer science and technology, and computational biology. Team members aim to co-develop technologies in a manner that fosters innovation and accelerates impact through applications to scientific questions in the other research theme

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Plant Communications

Integrative Team for Organismal Communication (iTOC)

Uniting participants from across the CROPPS disciplines, iTOC opens new routes to shed light on the molecular, cellular, tissue, whole-organism, and micro-ecological processes that define plant function. This theme calls on innovations from the ICCP team and aims to create biological and technological prototypes for deployment in systems developed by the DEEPFIND team.

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Image from Daniel Chitwood

Plant Systems

Discovery Engine for Extreme Phenotypes and Field Investigation of Novel (DEEPFIND)

The DEEPFIND team aims to realize the CROPPS vision of an Internet of Living Things (IoLT) which will allow interaction with the deep biology of plant systems across diverse genetic backgrounds and in relevant field environments. The IoLT will accelerate biological discovery and the improvement of crop sustainability, nutrition, and productivity by allowing for
the measurement, learning, prediction, and refinement of experimental design.

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Social and Ethical Engagement

Social and Ethical Engagement with Digital Biology (SEED)

SEED is led by social scientists who engage participants from across CROPPS disciplines to study and inform the center’s research processes, from visioning through execution. SEED works with a diversity of stakeholders and public sectors to explore perceptions and understandings, to define productive modes of dialogue with CROPPS researchers, and to use these interactions to shape the center’s priorities and practices.

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Research Experience for
Undergrads (REU) at CROPPS

Interdisciplinary teams with combined expertise in plant science and technology development (synthetic biology, nanotechnology, optics, robotics, and advanced computing) will host and mentor CROPPS REU participants. Working with the team, undergraduate participants will learn about and take part in our research, and contribute to the development of technologies that will enable seamless bidirectional communication between plants and people.

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