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Students Visit NCSA from Australia to work on Crops in Silico Project

Harry Guthrie and Edward Dann are joining the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for an eight-week internship sponsored by the Research Computing Centre (RCC) and the Monash Faculty of Information Technology in Australia, to work with the Crops in silico project (CIS).

Guthrie, an undergraduate student in the Department of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology at the University of Queensland, and Dann, a student from Monash University are both working on projects that aim to build 3D computer models of crops and set in place colonies of virtual bee-agents to forage on their flowers. The ultimate aim will be to use the resulting models in simulations to test possible futures for insect behavior and crop pollination to ensure the growing world population’s demands on agriculture can be met, in light of climate change.

Crops in Silico co-director, Matt Turk calls this the start of an important collaboration. “We are very excited about this opportunity to build a wonderful collaboration with the University of Queensland and Monash University. We’ve (CIS) been working very hard to build collaborations at technology transfers, say, for example, use the same computer codes and sharing models that go into full-scale simulation.”

Guthrie, will be integrating plant modeling software on the Blue Waters supercomputer in a massively parallel system to run field scale simulations as opposed to individual plant scale; and Dann will be working on bee vision and behavior modules. This will incorporate virtual reality (VR) technology to investigate how bees make pollination decisions, and what researchers think bees might see, that can be integrated into the full CIS system.

“It’s been great working with Harry and Edward, and to learn about alternative approaches and needs. They are very sharp students and have been very eager to get involved. It has been an amazing opportunity to expand our work with them,” said Turk.

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