Andrew Leakey

Leakey named Michael Aiken Chair at Illinois

RIPE PI Andrew Leakey was recently named the Michael Aiken Chair at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was asked to describe how the honors will affect his work and career.

Carl Bernacchi surrounded by a circle of light to represent an eclipse.

What can researchers learn about ecosystems and the environment during the total solar eclipse?

Scientists across the U.S. and Mexico are engaging in a one-day data-gathering operation to record how the 2024 total solar eclipse affects various aspects of life on Earth. RIPE's Carl Bernacchi and his colleagues will focus on atmospheric and ecosystem-scale responses to the eclipse. Bernacchi spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about what is planned and how it fits into the bigger research effort.

Lauana Pereira de Oliveira

From São João dos Patos to international scientist: Lauana's journey in search of knowledge and transformation

A newspaper in Lauana Pereira de Oliveira's native Brazil wrote an article about her academic journey that has led to her becoming a member of the RIPE team!

Elizabete Carmo-Silva in a lab

Recent review highlights key new insights in Rubisco regulation to enhance crop productivity

RIPE researcher Elizabete Carmo-Silva and others have spent decades working on ways to better regular rubisco and improve its efficiency. The highlights of that research, including the knowns and key unknowns, were published in a recent review.

Steve Long speaking on a stage with the word TED behind him

In TED Talk, Long describes three changes to photosynthesis, each boosting crop yields 20% or more

The full recording of RIPE Director Steve Long’s TED Talk, “Can we hack photosynthesis to feed the world,” about how three changes to photosynthesis could help reduce food insecurity and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is now available.

Collage of photos with Steve Long (left), Lisa Ainsworth (middle) and Tracy Lawson (right)

Three RIPE researchers recognized on 2023 ‘Highly Cited’ list

A trio of researchers for the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) Project have been named to the 2023 Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers list. The list recognizes research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional influence – reflected through their publication of multiple papers frequently cited by their peers during the last decade. RIPE’s Steve Long, Lisa Ainsworth, and Tracy Lawson were all selected to this year’s list.

Amanda Cavanagh (left) and Tracy Lawson standing back to back, wearing labcoats.

THE Awards shortlist - RIPE

The University of Essex nominated RIPE for the The Higher Education Awards: International Collaboration of the Year. On September 7th it was announced that RIPE made the shortlist of nominees, and would be featured as part of the awards ceremony in early December.

Steve Long in ceremonial robes

Long receives honorary doctorate from University of Essex

“I have been lucky enough to receive a few awards throughout my career, but none is more special to me than this.” - Steve Long during his commencement address to the summer class of 2023 from the University of Essex. Long was presented with an honorary doctorate as part of the ceremony.

Doug Allen (background) helps a fellow researcher (foreground) examine a plant with tiny leaves.

The underappreciated role of pods and siliques to developing seeds

Research overseen by RIPE's Doug Allen discovered that plant pods support seed development and higher yields, playing a significant role in photosynthesis. Their work was recently published in Science Advances.

PBS News Hour, Tipping Point, Agriculture on the Brink

PBS NewsHour special features ACES faculty and spaces

“Feeding the world has never been an easy job, but on a warming planet hurtling toward 10 billion inhabitants, the challenges are growing faster than the crops — agriculture is at a tipping point,” said PBS NewsHour host Miles O’Brien to kickoff a special “Tipping Point” Agriculture on the Brink” episode that features two RIPE researchers. 

Celebrating Plant Science Event Poster with a picture of Susanne von Caemmerer

RIPE researchers play big role in SEB Birthday Grant event

One hundred years of experimental biology, impactful research findings, innovative approaches, developmental workshops, and leadership in STEM has led to the SEB 2023 centenary conference. The Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) is celebrating its 100th anniversary throughout 2023, and in April announced 10 recipients of the SEB 100th Anniversary Birthday Grant. Successful applicants were awarded £500 to plan a celebration event at their own institute. Amanda Cavanagh, RIPE team member and Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex, was a recipient of one of the birthday grants. She organized Celebrating Plant Science,  an early career researcher event on May 24, 2023 at Essex.

Victoria Kramer

IGB Profile: Victoria Kramer

A feature on the journey of RIPE Field and Greenhouse Technician Victoria Kramer, who was born at 34 weeks and has since been diagnosed with vision and speech issues, autism, and cerebral palsy.

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Four RIPE researchers recognized on 2022 ‘Highly Cited’ list

Four RIPE researchers are amongst 6,938 researchers around the world recognized by Clarivate as Highly Cited Researchers.


Did Illinois Just Unlock the Secret to Solving World Hunger?

Ending hunger worldwide may sound like a pipe dream, but researchers at the University of Illinois are making great strides in turning that wish into a reality through the genetic engineering of plants.

By: Tyne Morgan || AgWeb

PBR Cowpea

African Agriculural Technology Foudation (AATF) gets grant to monitor pod-borer resistant cowpea in Nigeria

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has awarded AATF a grant of 250,000 Australian dollars for the dissemination and monitoring of the pod-borer resistant (PBR) cowpea variety in Nigeria.

By: AgroPages

Bill Gates

Wealthy Nations Must Support Africa in the Face of Famine and Climate Change, Says Bill Gates

In TIME Magazine, Bill Gates gives a brief overview of RIPE's innovative work with soybeans that lead to better quality seeds. 

By: Aryn Baker || TIME 

NRDC Midwest Heat Crops/SoyFACE

Midwest Heat Waves May Cook Crops—and Fry Harvests

Climate change–induced temperature extremes could wilt corn and soybean yields, potentially causing ripples to food supplies across the world.

By: Susan Cosier || NRDC


Plant Biotech, the Underrated and Underfunded Environmental Tool

To improve environmental outcomes in agriculture, the 2023 Farm Bill needs to prioritize plant breeding and biotech research.

By: Emma Kovak || The Breakthrough Institute 


Scientists Boost Crop Performance by Engineering a Better Leaf

Researchers increased yield in soy plants by making them better at photosynthesis, the process that powers life. The findings hold promise for feeding a warming world.

By: Raymond Zhong and Clare Toeniskoetter || The New York Times

Farms from above.

Hacking Photosynthesis: Bioengineers race to meet global food demands.

“Hacking Photosynthesis” from Codon Magazine features the research of different bioengineers around the world who are racing to meet global food demands and highlights RIPE’s work to amp up photosynthesis.

By: Niko McCarty || Codon Magazine

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Ort awarded Jalal Aliyev Lecture Scholarship

At the recent International Congress on Photosynthesis, RIPE Deputy Director Don Ort was honored with the Jalal Aliyev Lecture Scholarship from the International Society of Photosynthesis Research.

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Celebrating Australians in International Agricultural Research

TJ Higgins was awarded the 2021 Crawford Fund Medal for his work developing GM insect-resistant cowpeas, now approved and being grown by smallholders in Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Tracy Lawson

Unique experimental plant growth facility secures £1m grant

This week, the Wolfson Foundation pledged £1 million to support a new state-of-the-art indoor crop growth facility, to be led by RIPE's Professor Tracy Lawson, at the University of Essex. 

By: The University of Essex

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RIPE’s “More than an internship” mentorship program receives inaugural IGB DEI award

The Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) project’s communications team was one of two recipients in the inaugural year of the IGB Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Awards.

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Planet Hunger: Inside the Global Food Crisis

Putin — and greedy CEOs — are already putting 20 million people on the brink of starvation. If we don’t make big changes now, we will face mass food shortages.

By: Jeff Goodell || Rolling Stone

Christine Raines at Essex’s Celebrating Excellence in Research and Impact Awards

Christine Raines and Life Sciences Technical Team recognized at Essex’s Celebrating Excellence in Research and Impact Awards

University of Essex's Christine Raines was recognized as Research Champion for her outstanding work on improving photosynthesis in crops.


Resisting Climate Change with Photosynthesis Modified Plants

The heat is on: Bioscription's recent article about science’s mission in “resisting climate change with photosynthesis modified plants” highlights RIPE & our research done to adapt crops to warmer growing season temperatures.

By: SterlingAdmin || Bioscription 


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FAMINE FIGHTERS: From the lab to the field, U of I crop scientists are engineering a new solution to world hunger

Featuring RIPE Director Stephen Long and the RIPE project in the lead article in this quarter's Illinois Alumni Magazine, writer Ryan Ross shares the story of how our crop scientists are engineering a new solution to world hunger. 

By: Ryan A. Ross || Illinois Alumni Magazine 

GRDC Ground Cover

Canola establishment under the scope

With investment from the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), members across CSIRO, including RIPE’s Jose Barrero, are focusing on genetic solutions to help canola breeders. 

By: Dr. Matthew Nelson || GRDC Ground Cover 

Living Carbon

To fight climate change, a biotech firm has genetically engineered a very peppy poplar

RIPE Deputy Director Don Ort was recently featured in Science Magazine’s article on a California biotech company’s aim to create fast-growing trees that can rapidly soak up atmospheric CO2 to fight climate change.

By: Gabriel Popkin || Science

Yong-Su Jin

RIPE's Yong-Su Jin honored as University Scholar

Yong-Su Jin, a professor of food science and human nutrition, is among the five University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign professors who have been named University Scholars in recognition of their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.

Soybeans engineered by RIPE

Can we make photosynthesis more efficient?

RIPE Director Steve Long joined NPR’s The 21st Show to talk about what RIPE is doing to increase photosynthetic efficiency in crops and how it could help fight a climate-induced food crisis.

Produced by: Ryan Andrew Wilde || The 21st Show


THOUGHT LEADERS: Future-Proofing Food Crops in a Warming Climate

AZoCleantech speaks to Amanda Cavanagh from the University of Essex about the future of agriculture in a changing climate and how bypassing a photosynthetic glitch could help us to future-proof our food crops.

By: Laura Thomson || AZo Cleantech

Dhruv Patel

Dhruv Patel is daring plants to take a risk

Dhruv Patel is using gene editing tools to research photosynthesis, a process he first noticed in the parking lot of the Los Angeles motel his family managed.

By: Nicholas Karaviolas || Alliance for Science

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Miss our Crawford Fund Medals Presentation? Now available with Dr Brian Keating and Dr TJ Higgins

The Crawford Fund recently celebrated their Medal Awardees from 2020 and 2021, Dr. Brian Keating and Dr. TJ Higgins for their enduring contribution to global food security.

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Beyond the basics of photosynthesis

New research shows that slow adjustment of crops to changes in light could be reducing yields by 15% to 20%.

By: Sierra Day || Prairie Farmer

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How we can adapt plants to save our planet

In their Follow the Food episode, BBC World News features the RIPE project and our central mission in addressing food insecurity.

By: James Wong || BBC World News

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RIPE Director Steve Long Announced as Expertscape’s ‘World Expert’ in Climate Processes

RIPE Director Stephen P. Long was announced as Expertscape’s World Expert in Climate Processes, placing him in the top 0.1% of scholars writing about Climatic Processes over the past 10 years.

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RIPE Scientist Tracy Lawson Announced as New Vice President of the SEB

The Society for Experimental Biology recently announced that Dr. Tracy Lawson has been appointed as the new Vice President of the SEB. 

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OVER THE COLES: Dynamic photosynthesis model simulates 10-20 percent yield increase

A team from the University of Illinois has developed a model that treats photosynthesis as a dynamic process rather than an activity that either is or is not happening.

By: Clint Walker || Journal Gazette & Times-Courier 

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ORHS grad's research might boost food production

Kris Niyogi, an Oak Ridge High School graduate, led more than 10 years of research at Berkeley, Calif., that resulted in explanations of how green plants protect themselves from excess sunlight. The work earned him election in 2016 to the National Academy of Sciences. 

By: Carolyn Krause || The Oak Ridger

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FUTURE-MINDS-QB to increase participation from underrepresented groups in biomedical data science and quantitative biology

The FUTURE-MINDS-QB program will provide rigorous training, a nurturing environment, and academic and professional mentorship for students from underrepresented ethnic, racial, and gender groups in quantitative biology and biomedical data sciences.

By: Siv Schwink || The Grainger College of Engineering Physics

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New facilities support photosynthesis studies

Last year, researchers focused on improving yields by enhancing the effectiveness of photosynthesis saw tobacco and soybean yield increase by 20% over conventional varieties.

By: Phyllis Coulter || Illinois Farmer Today

Distinguished Senior Research Scientist Lisa A. Ainsworth

USDA's Agricultural Research Service Honors Scientists of the Year

For her outstanding contributions to research on crop responses to global climate change, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Lisa A. Ainsworth is the agency's Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of the Year for 2021.

Professor Steve Long

Improved agricultural technologies could help meet food security and climate change emergencies

A team of scientists proposes transformations to land management and agronomic practices to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change. 

By: Lancaster University

Professor Susanne von Caemmerer

Professor Susanne von Caemmerer awarded the Suzanne Cory Medal

ARC Centre Deputy Director Professor Susanne von Caemmerer was recently awarded the Inaugural Suzanne Cory Medal by the Australian Academy of Science.

After 2020

After 2020: Thoughts on moving forward in a new era

Professors from the University of Illinois share thoughts on moving forward in a new era in the LAS news magazine. 

By: Dave Evensen || College of Liberal Arts & Sciences  


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Agriculture futurist: Don Ort

Meet Donald (Don) Ort—Robert Emerson Professor at the University of Illinois—whose work is dedicated to increasing yield potential through improving crops' photosynthetic efficiency.

By: Meisha Holloway-Phillips || Plant Physiology

Rice Accenssion IRRI Screenhouse

Flag leaves could help top off photosynthetic performance in rice

A team from the University of Illinois and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) found that some flag leaves of different varieties of rice transform light and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates better than others.

By: Apple News 

AAAS logo teaser

Two RIPE researchers elected to AAAS Fellowship

Two RIPE researchers from the USDA-ARS and Australia’s CSIRO have been elected 2020 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Hacking photosynthesis

We Can Grow 60% More Food By Hacking Photosynthesis

Hacking photosynthesis could grow up to 60% more food, on the same land we use today, according to an international team of researchers.

By: Amanda Winkler || Freethink 


Here is ultraphotosynthesis!

It's done: by crossing plants and intervening on their genes, biochemists have managed to overcome billions of years of natural selection.

By: Pauline Fricot || Science & Vie 

41st Annual Telly Awards

41st Annual Telly Awards

Earlier this year, the RIPE team and the University of Illinois’ Video Services media team partnered up to create a trailer that told the story of our project’s purpose and mission, earning us the Gold Telly Award in the General: Not-For-Profit category.

Improvement in photosynthesis

Researchers resolve two photosynthetic bottlenecks which can boost plant productivity by 27 percent

According to a new study published in Nature Plants, scientists from the University of Essex have resolved two major photosynthetic bottlenecks to boost plant productivity by 27% in real-world field conditions.

By: Atomstalk 



Gene manipulation using algae could grow more crops with less water

Enhanced photosynthesis holds promise of higher yields in a drought-afflicted future.

By: Fiona Harvey || The Guardian 

Steven Burgess

From the lab to the field, agriculture seeks to adapt to a warming world

Researchers and innovators are looking at more resilient crops and farm animals to adapt to a world with rising temperatures and at-risk food supplies. 

By: Jim Robbins || YaleEnvironment360

14 rice varieties

Harnessing Light Energy: Scientists look at how photosynthesis could boost yields of rice cultivars

Scientists look at how photosynthesis could boost yields of rice cultivars. 

By: Seed Today

Picture of wheat

Scientists unlocking heat-tolerant wheat

Researchers working on molecular-level responses in crops have taken a step closer to their goal of producing heat-tolerant wheat.

By: Katy Askew || FoodNavigator

Johannes Kromdijk stands in a field

Johannes Kromdijk awarded SEB President’s Medal

The SEB President’s Medals are awarded annually to young scientists of outstanding merit.

ANU biologist Dr Tory Clarke, pictured with her son Isaac, now works from home.

Coronavirus restrictions closed Canberra universities, and it's affecting industries around the world

Tory Clarke shares how COVID-19 has impacted her work on the RIPE project at The Australian National University. 

By: Niki Burnside || ABC News 

Picture of rice in a field

Rice genetically engineered to resist heat waves can also produce up to 20% more grain

Deputy Director Don Ort comments on a photosynthetic breakthrough in rice. 

By: Erik Stokstad || Nature

Donald Ort Field Trials

Donald Ort awarded the Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award by ASPB

The Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) recognizes significant contributions to plant biology.

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Inspirational women in STEM and tech: “Be True to Your Team” with Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

U.S. Senior Executive scientist Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young explains that being true to one's team helps to build an atmosphere of trust by acting authentically and holding each other to high standards. 

By: Penny Bauder || Medium

Yu Wang and Steve Long

Study shines light on full potential of soybeans

Komorebi is a Japanese word that describes how light filters through leaves — creating shifting, dappled “sunflecks” that illustrate plants’ ever-changing light environment. Crops harness light energy to fix carbon dioxide into food via photosynthesis.

By: AgriNews Publications

Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is an international research project that is engineering crops to be more productive by improving photosynthesis.

Green Genes: Agronomists are engineering DNA to save some foods from extinction

Climate change feels like an unprecedented global challenge. But the truth is, humanity has been here before — approximately 11,000 years ago. That’s when the last Ice Age ended.

By: Matt Alderton || USA Today

Sorghum leaf illuminated by the sun.

Soybeans and other crops are hurting for light, but this research fights shadows

Scientists at RIPE have developed a new mathematical computer model to understand and measure how much soybean yield is lost due to light fluctuations on cloudy versus sunny days. 

By: Jeff Kart || Forbes

Path in the countryside with trees and paddy fields, of blond color with cut rice on the left, and still green on the right, during the harvest of October 2017 in Don Det, Si Phan Don, Laos.

The Golden Revolution

With the famed Green Revolution running out of puff, scientists are working on a new Golden Revolution that will deliver a step-change in agricultural output.

By: Ben Long || Rural Business

Illustration of a plant.

How we’ll reengineer crops for a changing climate

Genetic changes to food crops can’t solve all the problems associated with climate change, but they can help.

By: Laura Howes || Chemical & Engineering News

Provost, Stephen Long, Associate Dean Ando, Dean Kidwell pose together.

Stephen Long invested as the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences

Stephen Long has been invested as the Stanley O. Ikenberry Chair Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences, one of the most distinguished honors at Illinois.

Steve Long speaks with Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, at a reception in Chicago.

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, shines a light on women’s empowerment and ending extreme poverty

RIPE Director Stephen Long was invited to discuss the RIPE project with Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

Picture of ground breaking

New greenhouse coming to U of I's Research Park

A new state-of-the-art greenhouse is coming to the University of Illinois' Research Park.

By: Haydee Clotter || Illinois Fox News

A sign at Research Park that says "Consistently Ground Breaking"

Research Park plans greenhouse for dynamic agriculture project

A group from the University and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will break ground on a new greenhouse in Research Park. 

By: Daily Illini Staff 

Greenhouse mock-up

Research Park to welcome new greenhouse

Representatives from Illinois and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will break ground on a new, state-of-the-art greenhouse.

By: WCIA News

Photosynthesis illustration

Bill Gates wants to hack photosynthesis

A new video highlights some efforts Gates is funding to make plants grow faster.

By: Ben Paynter || Fast Company

Photosynthesis illustration

Tuning up photosynthesis to feed the world

An international team is working to tune-up photosynthesis in our most important crops to increase worldwide food productivity. 

By: Bill Gates || Gates Notes

Bill Gates meets with UKAid

UK aid partners with Gates Foundation to tackle global food insecurity

UK aid is tackling global food insecurity through a new project with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Drought Solutions

8 innovative drought solutions that we can count 0n

A review on anti-drought measures that are in development and in actual use.

By: Kashyap Vyas || Interesting Engineering 

Reisanbau in Vietnam: In drei Jahrzehnten müssen doppelt so viele Nahrungsmittel produziert werden wie heute

Kampf gegen Hunger Satte zehn Milliarden

Die Weltgemeinschaft steht vor einer gewaltigen Aufgabe: Bis 2050 muss sie fast doppelt so viel Nahrung produzieren wie heute - ohne zusätzliche Ressourcen. Drei Forscher erklären, wie das gelingen könnte.

By:  | Spiegel Online

Headshot of Lisa Ainsworth

RIPE Researcher Lisa Ainsworth honored with NAS Prize

Elizabeth (Lisa) Ainsworth will receive the 2019 NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences.

By: The National Academy of Sciences

sun, sky, wheat

How can we feed 11 billion people?

The challenge to produce enough food to feed our growing population.

By: BBC World Service | The Inquiry

Steve Burgess collecting data in the field with Steve Long.

Episode 024: Improving Photosynthesis with Dr. Steven Burgess

Meet plant biologist Dr. Steven Burgess in this podcast and find out the skills needed to be a scientist. 

By: NGSNavigators

Senator Durbin tours the RIPE project's growth chambers.

Senator Durbin calls for more research funding after touring RIPE project

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited the RIPE project and said he hopes to increase federal funding for scientific research.

By: Jim Meadows | Illinois Public Media 

Two scientists pose in greenhouse

International Women’s Day 2019: Spotlight on Scientists of the RIPE project

As part of SIN USA’s celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, SIN Chicago profiled four early-career scientists from the RIPE project.

Screenshot from France24 news segment.

The high-tech food chain

From farmlands to kitchens, technology is playing a pivotal role in ensuring better yields and disease-free food. 

By: France 24

Two scientists measure photosynthesis.

Hacking photosynthesis to re-engineer crop plants and feed the world

The next 'green revolution' will necessitate a radical redesign of how plants work.

By: Quirks & Quarks | CBC Radio

Don Ort in field

How to feed the world by 2050? Recent breakthrough boosts plant growth by 40 percent.

Recent advances to address hunger through agricultural discovery will be highlighted at this year’s annual meeting of the AAAS.


U.S. researchers find novel way to produce bigger plants

Photosynthesis holds the key to the air we breathe and the food we eat. But it’s not as efficient as it could be.

soybean field

Illinois research combats food insecurity

Established in 2012, RIPE was created to engineer plants to help solve food insecurity. Since it began, it has received more than $70 million in funding.

By: University of IllinoisStories of Impact

Cowpea seeds

As Nigeria makes final move to commercialise Bt cowpea

After nine years of intensive trials of the Bacillus thuringiences (Bt) cowpea, Nigeria finally begins the final processes towards commercialisation.

By: Leadership, a Nigerian newspaper

soyean field

RIPE project aims to help farmers grow more with less

Lab breakthroughs could lead to greater crop production, prepare for future population growth.

By: Daniel Grant |

Don Ort, Cassava, RIPE

Wired In: Donald Ort

Wired In: Meet Donald Ort, the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Science and Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

By: Paul Wood | The News-Gazette

tobacco plants, irrigation line

Plant scientists have found a way to 'hack' photosynthesis. Here's why that's a big deal

If the preliminary research pans out, we may have a new way to feed the world's growing population.

By: Denise Chow | NBC News MACH

Don Ort, Paul South, Amanda Cavanagh, tobacco, snap freeze

Scientists tweak photosynthesis and boost crop growth by 40 percent

Without photosynthesis, life as we know it wouldn't exist on earth.

Paul South, tobacco plants, LI-6400XT portable photosynthesis system

Plants botch photosynthesis 20% of the time. Fixing that could change agriculture

Our oxygen-rich air is confusing as hell to a plant.

Amanda Cavanagh, Paul South, Don Ort

Can hacking plants feed the world? The research looks good

Plants are good at what they do — turning sunlight into food. However, some researchers have found the leaf world could improve, and that could have a major effect on the world’s growing population.

By: Leadership, a Nigerian newspaper

Man with tobacco seedlings

Scientists improve on photosynthesis by genetically engineering plants

Ever since Thomas Malthus issued his dire prediction in 1789 that population growth would always exceed food supply, scientists have worked to prove him wrong. 

By: Julia Rosen | Los Angeles Times

Person uses a machine called a LI-COR to measure photosynthesis on a plant.

Scientists have 'hacked photosynthesis' in search of more productive crops

There's a big molecule, a protein, inside the leaves of most plants. It's called Rubisco.

By: Dan Charles | National Public Radio (NPR)

aerial, field trial, tobacco

Genetic modification turbocharges photosynthesis and drastically improves crop growth

“That’s our goal, to make a crop that has a solution to all photosynthetic problems,” study author Amanda Cavanagh, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, told Gizmodo. 

Amanda Cavanagh, tobacco seedlings, greenhouse

Reclaiming lost calories: Tweaking photosynthesis boosts crop yields

Improving crop yields to grow more food on less land is not a new challenge. But as the global population grows and diets change, the issue is becoming more urgent.

Soybean plant in sunlight

Fixing a flaw in photosynthesis could massively boost food production

Intelligent design has triumphed where evolution has mostly failed. Biologists have boosted the biomass of tobacco by around 40 per cent by compensating for a fundamental flaw in photosynthesis.

By: Michael Le Page | New Scientist

tobacco plants

Engineered plants without photorespiration ‘glitch’ could help feed millions in coming decades

“With changing diets, increased urbanization—70 percent of world population by 2050—and the estimated 9 to 11 billion people that will be living by the second half of this century, it is estimated that food production needs to increase by as much as 70-100 percent to supply enough food to meet demand. ” South is one of the researchers who has made what could be a major breakthrough in boosting plant production.

tobacco plants

Gene engineers make super-size plants that are 40% larger

Researchers hope to create a new “green revolution” by improving photosynthesis.

By : Antonio Regalado | MIT Technology Review

A farmer harvests tobacco leaves at a plantation in the valley of Vinales, in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio, January 27, 2015. Picture taken January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Breakthrough in plant engineering could boost productivity, feed millions more

The yield of many staple crops could be boosted by 40 percent by a new process that adjusts the way they turn sunlight into energy.

By: Thin Lei Win | Thomson Reuters Foundation

Two hands hold a tobacco seedling.

Genetically modified 'shortcut' boosts plant growth by 40%

Scientists in the U.S. have engineered tobacco plants that can grow up to 40% larger than normal in field trials.

By: Matt McGrath | BBC News

tobacco plants, flowers

Improve photosynthesis and increase crop yield

Bioengineering corrects defects in photosynthesis in tobacco and increases crop yield by 40%.

By: Katherine Bourzac | Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN)

Don Ort headshot

Reengineering photosynthesis for adaptation to global climate change

Donald Ort's area of expertise lies in the area of photosynthesis and the ability to reengineer it to be adapted for global climate change and to improve its efficiency in agricultural situations.

By: Richard Jacobs | FutureTechPodcast

Picture of panelists

Illinois experts share: Emerging technologies and the role of GMOs

A discussion on GMOs and their role within our food systems. During a roundtable conversation, experts will share details of genetic modification, including how it is developed, tested and regulated to help ensure food safety, and why farmers and scientists view this as another effective tool in the toolbox to help grow and raise our food.

Organized by: Illinois Farm Families

Close-up picture of wheat

Engineering Photosynthesis

There’s some bad news, followed by good news, but partially countered by further bad news. The bad news is that our population is growing, and therefore our food requirements, and yet we are approaching the limits of our ability to increase crop yield with cultivation alone. 

By:  | General Science 

Paul South and Don Ort stand in a field trial.

Can better photosynthesis help feed the world?

Plant researchers have been thinking about using improved photosynthesis to increase crop yields for decades, but now that goal is almost within reach.

By:  | Undark


Turbo-Charged Photosynthesis Could Make Crops Grow Faster While Using Fewer Nutrients

One of the great ironies of evolution is that almost all known life depends on one of the slowest and most inefficient enzymes on Earth. Now scientists have taken the largest step towards transferring a work-around from cyanobacteria into a plant.

By: IFLScience 


Crop genetic benefit two fold thanks to algae

Alge has long been known to be one of natures greatest carbon sinks, with some estimates being as high as 25% of carbon being captured into the biosphere by micro-organisms. Now researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have engineered tiny carbon-capturing engines from blue-green algae into plants.

By: Cameron Costigan | Into the Void Science

Researchers hold tobacco plants next to growth chambers.

Algae could be crucial to boosting crop yields

Scientists have made the break through, into the way plants convert carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight into energy.

By: Eddie Summerfield | 2GB 873 AM

This Week in Science teaser image of the hosts.

This Week in Science Podcast

Australian scientists have managed to combine a CO2-eating carboxysome from blue-green algae with the cells of crop plants in the hopes that yields will eventually increase some 60%.

By: Kirsten Sanford | This Week in Science Podcast

Steve Long

The plant whisperer

A famine crisis is looming. Stephen Long's work aims to feed the masses by supercharging the plants we eat. 

By: Duncan Greere | BBC Focus Magazine

Paul South collecting measurements in field

Helping plants remove natural toxins could boost crop yields by 47 percent

Can you imagine the entire population of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the United Kingdom and France going hungry? You don’t need to imagine.

By: Paul South || The Conversation

cassava graphic

Cassava breeding could impair yield by 20 per cent

Breeding African cassava cultivars for improvements such as pest and disease resistance could impair their yield potential, a study suggests.

By: Paul Adepoju || SciDevNet  


Rebooting food: Finding new ways to feed the future

Welcome to the brave new world of food, where scientists are battling a global time-bomb to find new ways to feed the future.

By: Thin Lei Win | Reuters


Genetic engineering innovation makes plants more efficient at using water

The world population is growing rapidly, and that signals big challenges when it comes to how best to feed and fuel everyone our planet has to support. Already agriculture uses 90 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, but this will need to be stretched even further as Earth’s population increases.

By:  | Digital Trends 

A project begun nearly 15 years ago is finally coming to fruition, as Nigeria is poised to become the first country to release a genetically modified variety of insect-resistant cowpeas to farmers.  “The cowpea growers have been very supportive. They like the GM crop. They have seen it perform and they are ready to grow it," Issoufou Kollo Abdourhamane, the project's manager at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), told me.  Cowpeas, known as black-eyed peas in the United States, are a key

Plagued by pest, African farmers may soon have access to insect-resistant GMO cowpeas—for free

Nigeria is poised to become the first country to release a genetically modified variety of insect-resistant cowpeas to farmers.

By: Paul McDivitt | Genetic Literacy Project

The photosynthesis fix

The photosynthesis fix

As world food needs rise, so does the need for faster, more efficient plant growth. Bypassing an error-prone enzyme is one way to do it.

By: Rachel Ehrenberg | Knowable Magazine


Science is more than labcoats: Clearing plant bottlenecks to feed the world with Katherine Meacham

You may be aware of bottlenecks in your work environment, but did you know that even plants have bottlenecks? What if there was a productivity coach for plants? Someone who could give them all of the secrets to being faster, greener and more productive? Someone who could whisper secrets into plant DNA so that they could transform sunlight into a bigger, better plant self…to be eaten by humans of course.

By: Ingrdi Heilke | Public Side of Private Work


45 million dollars given to U of I research group

Researchers at the U of I are trying to end world hunger and they just got 45 million dollars to help them do it.

By: Jennifer Jensen | WCIA3 News


U of I researchers tackle world hunger

A research team from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I) is working on a project that might eventually change the world: tackling the growing issue of world hunger through increased crop yields.

By: Illinois News Network

Big 10

Illinois biologists power up plant productivity

The BTN LiveBIG campaign is more than school or sports, it is the stories and the impact of innovation, research, and inspiration from all over the conference to make you proud to be apart of the Big Ten. 

By: BTN LiveBIG Campaign


Research seeks solutions for climate change, hunger

Researchers at the University of Illinois are taking the basics of photosynthesis miles farther in Urbana-Champaign test plots and greenhouses — intervening in the process, through which plants use sunlight to produce energy, to create higher yields.

By: Phyllis Coulter | Illinois Farmer Today

Soybean field at sunset

To feed the world, improve photosynthesis

By reworking the basic metabolism of crops, plant scientists hope to forestall devastating food shortages.

By: Katherine Bourzac | MIT Technology Review 


Video: 2017 Food & Fuel Field Day

Local ag communicator Stu Ellis covered the 2017 Food & Fuel Field Day that showcased RIPE's work to our friends, industry partners, and the media.

By: Stu Ellis | WCIA3 News

Fred and Wilma research

U of I crop research moves at light speed with FRED, WILMA

Don’t let the names fool you; FRED and WILMA are anything but Stone Age. FRED (field roving evaluation device) and partner WILMA (wagon for the investigation of leaves using multispectral analysis) to collectively gather much more information much faster than individual scientists clipping light sensors on leaves one at a time.

By: Kay Shipman | FarmWeek

Researcher in the Field

UI’s RIPE agriculture project aims to tackle growing problem

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, farmers will need to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9.2 billion people.That's a problem, said Donald Ort, associate director of the RIPE project at the University of Illinois, which is exploring ways to meet this challenge.

By: Ben Zigterman | News-Gazette

Fon Ort

RIPE project shows off progress in photosynthesis research

RIPE Project Associate Director Don Ort discusses field trials that have shown increased biomass in tobacco plants from genetic modification of photosynthesis.

By: Brian Moline | Illinois Public Media 


Adapting plants to global change

How do you feed 7 billion people? How do you grow that much food? That’s the question that confronts plant biologists. As the world population continues to grow, and change, researchers like RIPE Director Stephen Long are looking for more ways to grow more food, more quickly.

By: Richard Jacobs | FutureTechPodcast


Cloudy days cost yield until scientists hacked photosynthesis

Throughout the growing season seemingly benign clouds pass over millions of acres of crops and inadvertently rob plants of their productivity, costing untold bushels of potential yield. Researchers recently reported in the journal Science that they have engineered a solution and increased the productivity of a crop in the field by 14- 20 percent—they believe this fix could be applied to staple food crops to help meet future global food demands.

By: Johannes Kromdijk | Katarzyna Głowacka | Stephen Long || The Science Breaker

Cassava Farmers

Research shows how to grow more cassava, one of the world’s key food crops

What root vegetable is toxic eaten raw but a hunger quencher when cooked, and provides both tapioca flour and the pearls in bubble tea? This question probably will stump many Americans, but is easy for people in the developing world.

By: Stephen P. Long | Amanda P. De Souza | Lynnicia Massenburg || The Conversation


The 12 key science moments of 2016

Our panel of leading scientists pick the most significant discoveries and developments of the year – from the Zika virus to the planet Proxima B – and a surprising secret of marriage.

By: Sue Hartley | The Guardian


With an eye on hunger, scientists see promise in genetic tinkering of plants

A decade ago, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested a bold approach to improve the food supply: tinker with photosynthesis, the chemical reaction powering nearly all life on Earth.

By: Justin Gillis | New York Times 

Mennenga GMO

21st Show: What does genetically modified mean?

What does it mean when we say that a plant is genetically modified?

By: Niala Boodhoo, Christine Herman, Phillip Kisubika and Sean Neumann | 21st Show

Steven Long

GMO Labeling

RIPE Director Steve Long discusses the recent U.S. GMO labeling bill on the 21st Show.

By: 21st Show

Don Ort

GMO safety report

RIPE researcher Don Ort discusses public perception of GMOs in the wake of a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, which states GMOs are safe.

By: 21st Show

Dr Lee Hickey

Future fare tipped to be GM, GE, ‘organic’ or none as shortages compound

One of the longest running, loudest and bitterest debates about food in modern times centres on the relative virtues of genetically modified and organic crops.

By: Andrew Masterson | Sydney Morning Herald


The plan to feed the world by hacking photosynthesis

With the world population projected to soar past the 11 billion mark by 2100, we’re going to need to find some creative new ways of putting food on the table. The latest science-powered plan to feed the world? Hacking photosynthesis.

By: Maddie Stone | Gizmodo


Boosting photosynthesis to feed the world

In the next 50 years, the human population and global affluence—both major drivers of agricultural demand—are only expected to increase; researchers estimate that food production will need to grow by 60 to 120 percent by mid-century to keep pace. 

By: Kate Wheeling | Pacific Standard 


Lighter colored upper leaves may be crop ‘photosynthesis hack’

Researchers are determining ways to boost crop production through expanding benefits of photosynthesis and understanding how plants react with light.

Source: Farm Futures 

Picture of leaf.

To feed the world, we may need to hack photosynthesis

One of the biggest challenges of the 21st century will be figuring out how to feed our rising global population. Now, some scientists are making the radical claim that growing more food won't be enough—we literally need to hack photosynthesis.

By: Maddie Stone | Gizmodo  

Tanaka Paddy

Illinois university rice plot could help yields globally

To date, there has been no reason to use the words rice paddies and Illinois in the same sentence, but researchers at the University of Illinois have put the two together with hopes of making an impact on global supplies of the popular grain.

By: Steve Binder | Farm World

Person walking down a dirt road toward a mountain shrouded in clouds.

Better-bred crops could send global warming out to space

Scientists have used computer models to imagine a world where crops are specially bred to reflect away more light and heat, without compromising productivity.

By John Upton | Pacific Standard Magazine