WashU computer scientists part of $8M data research grant​​​

Two computer scientists from Washington University in St. Louis are part of a research team that will use big data to accelerate breeding and the commercial release of sorghum crops that can be used as a renewable energy source.

Robert Pless, PhD, professor of computer science, and Roman Garnett, PhD, assistant professor of computer science, both in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, will join a team of 10 university, government and industry collaborators working on the four-year, $8 million project, headed by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E TERRA program.

With about $900,000 of the total funding, Pless will develop 3-D models of the crops, including their shapes, volumes and properties, such as leaf curvature, that may indicate drought stress in field conditions, while Garnett will develop algorithms that make the most effective use of statistical estimates of the final biomass of the crops from sensor data as early in the growing season as possible to speed the breeding process.

For more information, visit the Plant Science Center website.