Fred C. Davison Early Career Scholar Award 2020
Alexander Bucksch is an assistant professor of computational plant biology. He develops innovative computational methods to study plant organizational levels from a mathematical perspective. He expands to plant science the mathematical concept of “shape descriptors,” which reveal the state and growth of complex structures. Using imaging instruments, Bucksch captures spatial arrangements of branches, roots and other organs that together form complex morphological phenotypes. His interdisciplinary methods have led to discoveries of phenotypes on scales ranging from populations to gene regulatory elements, that had been hidden to classically trained biologists. Bucksch’s work increases understanding of plant adaptions to changing environments, which could benefit crop yield and public health. More than 600 researchers use his methods through the world’s largest root phenotyping platform, Digital Imaging of Root Traits. His work was recognized by an NSF CAREER Award in 2019 and the 2020 Early Career Award from the North American Plant Phenotyping Network.