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UA-led research team awarded $50 million to solve plant biology's grand challenge questions
Date:1/30/2008

nfrastructure and the researchers will rely heavily on computational thinking, a form of problem-solving that assigns computers the jobs theyre most efficient at, and in doing so frees up humans to spend more time on the creative tasks that humans do best. The iPlant cyberinfrastructure will serve as a model for solving problems in fields outside of plant biology, too.

One feature of iPlant that will be developed is the ability to map the full expanse of plant biology research in much the way that Google Earth physically maps our planet. Like users of Google Earth, users of iPlant may one day be able to zoom in and out among various levels of plant biology, from the molecular to the organismic to the ecosystem level. For example, a researcher might zoom in to analyze the carbon fixed, oxygen produced and water utilized by individual leaves, then zoom out to analyze how all of these might affect large-scale changes in ecosystems and how that could in turn affect air quality and climate.

Because collaboration among disciplines is central to iPlants mission, the cyberinfrastructure also will have a strong social networking component for both facilitating communication among researchers from different fields as they work and for researching the effectiveness of social networking in iPlant and in the plant and computer and information sciences generally.

All iPlant projects will have K12, undergraduate and graduate education components as well, which are co-funded by NSF, BIO5 and Science Foundation Arizona. Students, teachers and the public will all have access to iPlants resources and data, as well as to educational tools designed to help them understand that data and develop inquiry-based learning modules for K12, undergraduate and graduate science education.

The learning activities that will evolve from the iPlant collaborative will bring the challenges of real-world problem-solving and discovery to the classroom for both student
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Contact: Johnny Cruz
cruzj@email.arizona.edu
520-621-1879
University of Arizona
Source:Eurekalert

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