Researchers affiliated with the School of Integrative Plant Science seek solutions to major challenges facing humanity, from food security in a changing climate to well-being in an increasingly urbanized world. Our research in four major challenge areas is empowered by connections in a highly collaborative environment, as we work to achieve the goals of our vision: from fundamental insights to improved plants, sustainably grown, serving the world.

Foundational Knowledge

Structure, function, and evolution of plants, the soils in which they grow, and the microbes and other organisms with which they interact.


  • Investigate plants as model organisms for understanding basic biology, as evolving systems displaying both the unity and diversity of life, and as living systems that scale from genome to organism to biosphere. (faculty list, research themes)
  • Understand the physical-chemical properties of soils and the basis for soil impact on plant productivity and microbial communities, as well as carbon, nutrient, and related fluxes. (faculty list, research themes)
  • Investigate the diversity of plant-associated microbes and the rapidly evolving molecular/cellular contacts between microbes and plants that explain interactions ranging from beneficial to pathogenic. (faculty list, research themes)

Food Security

Human nutrition, health, and economic vitality in the face of climate, population, and resource limitation pressure


  • Develop and deploy crop systems that use plant genomic diversity and field-data systems to maximize productivity, minimize resource inputs, and increase tolerance of abiotic environmental stresses (faculty list, research themes).
  • Manage biotic interactions with plants for improved productivity, sustainability, and food safety and security (faculty list, research themes).
  • Utilize plant genomic diversity and innovative growing systems to produce crops with enhanced food value and improved properties for growers, agricultural communities, and food systems (faculty list, research themes).

Environmental Conservation

Sustainable agroecosystems that can mitigate climate change



Plants and People

Plants as supporters of enhanced human health and well-being



  • Explore and improve the ability of plants to enhance culinary enjoyment and human health (faculty list, research themes).
  • Improve the ability of plants in human environments to enhance aesthetic pleasure and well-being, and develop managed landscapes that are environmentally friendly and adaptable in a changing climate (faculty list, research themes).

Research by Crop

A substantial number of SIPS faculty and senior researchers concentrate their activities on specific crop plants.  Some of the ongoing research activities related to specific crops are highlighted on the Research by Crop page. Major crops listed are: Apples, Biofuels (including willow and herbaceous sources), Cassava, Fruits and Berries, Grape, Maize, Ornamentals (including trees, turf, and flowers), Potato, Rice, Small Grains, Tomato, and Vegetables (including peppers, squash, bean, and brassica for specialty, fresh, and processing markets)

Organic Agriculture Research and Education

Providing materials and resources for organic producers is an increasingly important part of the SIPS mission as market share for organic products continues to expand.  Among the areas receiving greatest attention are breeding for disease resistance, optimizing strategies for disease prediction, suppression and management using organic methods, and communication of research findings to students and stakeholders.