Professor Elizabeth A Ainsworth (Lisa)

U.S. Department of Agriculture & iSEE, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Research Theme(s)

Rising population size, changes in land-use, introduction of novel and invasive pests and diseases, and global changes in climate and atmospheric composition pose significant challenges to maintaining and improving future agricultural production and global food supply. Two global changes that directly affect crop productivity are rising carbon dioxide concentration (CO2) and rising tropospheric ozone concentration (O3). While elevated CO2 directly stimulates photosynthesis in O3 crops, rising tropospheric (O3) negatively impacts photosynthesis and subsequent growth and production. Lisa’s research applies physiological, biochemical, genomic and imaging tools to understand the mechanisms of plant responses to climate change.

Lisa’s research aims to identify key mechanisms by which plants respond to specific elements of climate change, and use those to maximize crop production in the future using Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) facilities, where plants are grown under atmospheric conditions forecast for later this century under completely open air conditions.

Lisa will guide a CO2 enrichment experiment, SoyFACE, with LC3M researchers at the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (iSEE), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The artificially increased atmospheric CO2 mimics climate projections in the future, an interesting scenario for basalt application. Responses will show if the increased pressure of higher atmospheric CO2 drives increased CO2 capture by enhanced weathering.