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Austin Forum - July 5th, 2011 (Part 1 of 5)

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Published on Aug 22, 2011

Improvements in agricultural technology over the last couple of centuries have led to enormous changes in society. In the United States, technological improvements have enabled a shift from 75% of the population being employed in agriculture in 1870 to less than 2% at present. In the developing world today, the average person consumes 25% more calories than at the start of the Green Revolution in 1960. It can be argued that virtually all of modern civilization has arisen since the human race has had the ability to produce enough food to allow people to focus on some question other than "What am I going to eat tomorrow?"

Somewhat surprisingly, the future of plant science and agriculture has turned out to be a computational challenge. Our new ability to rapidly delve into genomes and metabolic networks provides the potential for astounding new insights into how plants work, but the amount of data produced and the computation required in modern plant science is growing exponentially.

In this talk, Dr. Dan Stanzione (a computational expert) and Dr. Matthew Vaughn (a biologist) will describe The iPlant Collaborative, a large-scale National Science Foundation project focused on bringing high-end computing, data, and software resources to bear on the grand challenges of plant biology. In addition, they will cover the drivers in modern agriculture that boost plant productivity.

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