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San Diego, California
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Meet the Team

Christopher Hendrickson
Christopher Hendrickson
Assistant Professor of Biology


Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences National University
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Christopher Hendrickson

Take a moment to consider the remarkable diversity of habitats the Earth contains. Baking heat. Extreme cold. Swamps. Deserts. Places awash, and seemingly devoid of water. Places right next to geothermal vents, spewing noxious gases and superheated water. Places humanity has struggled to colonize. And yet, plants have evolved the mechanisms needed to colonize and thrive in each and every such habitat all around the globe.

My research aims to identify and leverage these mechanisms in plants adapted to these extreme environments toward improvement of crops. Instead of spending countless years developing crops capable of squeezing another 2% of yield under optimal soil fertility and irrigation, I advocate development of crops which can instead enable reclamation of 2% more arable land. Any yield from such plants could enable more production, with less consumption of valuable natural resources.

Long-term sustainability of global agriculture is threatened by climate change. Drought, heat and salt stresses will inevitably reduce yields. Fortunately, we need only look to species which have already evolved the tools to cope with the stresses of climate change. Such desert-dwelling species harbor powerful mechanisms which can provide the foundational knowledge needed for crop improvement, and enable long-term sustainability of global agriculture.

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