Using digital images and supercomputers to help create drought-resistant crops

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Manuel's Tavern

602 N. Highland Ave NE · Atlanta, GA

How to find us

We'll be in the back bar dining area, to the right as you enter Manuel's from N. Highland.

Location image of event venue


- This event is a production of the Atlanta Science Tavern.
- Dinner starts at 7:00 pm.
- The presentation begins around 7:45.
- Seating will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
- The capacity of the venue is 80 people.
- We expect a turnout of around 60% of day-of RSVPs.
- Refer to our Open Seating Policy ( for details.
- There is a $3 contribution requested from non-students.

Using digital images and supercomputers to help create drought-resistant crops

Alexander Bucksch, Research Scientist
School of Biology
School of Interactive Computing
Georgia Institute of Technology

As a consequence of climate change, regions of low soil fertility are expanding, creating a need for the development of stress tolerant food crops to meet the increasing global demand for agricultural products.

A key to addressing this problem is understanding the link between how the shapes of plant organs, such as their roots, in vary in different environmental conditions and the genes responsible for these variations.

Working at the Weitz Lab at Georgia Tech together with field experimentalists from the Roots Lab at Penn State, I have developed mathematical descriptions for root systems that are based on thousands of digital images from plants grown in real soil. By identifying root shape features that are under genetic control, it now becomes possible to breed plants that thrive in what would otherwise be limiting soil conditions.

Our research has produced web-based tools that give us insight into improvable root shape features from digital images. In addition, these tools, running on supercomputing platforms, are available for use by non-experts around the world.

About our speaker
Alexander Bucksch is a Research Scientist in the Weitz Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he works on geometric and topological descriptions for plant roots used in imaging and simulations.

Alex received his PhD from the University of Technology in Delft, The Netherlands for research focused on developing algorithms to extract tree crown parameters from laser scanning data. He obtained his Bachelor and Master degrees for algorithmic research on plants at the Brandenburg Technical University in Germany.