Lisa Ainsworth

147 ERML


Research Website

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USDA Agricultural Research Service, Plant Physiologist; Adjunct Professor of Plant Biology

Research Focus: Plant physiological and molecular responses to global change, photosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism

Biography: Dr. Ainsworth is the Research Leader of the Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit and an Adjunct Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She received her BS in Biology at UCLA and PhD in Crop Sciences from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign working with Steve Long. She directs research at the SoyFACE facility to improve crop responses to global atmospheric change.

Mission Statement: 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 and rising tropospheric ozone concentration. While elevated carbon dioxide stimulates photosynthesis and productivity of crops, rising tropospheric ozone negatively impacts photosynthesis and subsequent growth and production. The focus of Dr. Ainsworth’s research is to understand and integrate the genetic, molecular, biochemical and physiological responses of plants to global change. This fundamental understanding is critical for identifying targets for breeding and biotechnology that may be exploited to maximize crop yields and plant productivity in the coming decades. As the population grows and the climate becomes more variable over this century, addressing these research challenges will be ever more important. She and her team aim to better understand and address crop responses to global climate change by using meta-analyses to quantify the responses of plants to climate change factors, developing high-throughput tools for investigating molecular, biochemical and physiological responses of plants to climate change, and identifying the genes and loci underpinning intraspecific variation in the response of species to climate change. The ultimate aim of her research is to provide fundamental knowledge that will enable crop production to be maximized in a future world of elevated carbon dioxide concentration, elevated ozone concentration, higher temperatures and greater probability of drought stress.