New city institute sets out to feed the world

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Top researchers at a pioneering new Sheffield University institute are seeking to feed the world through 12 ambitious new projects.

The Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures – set up thanks to a £2.6 million donation from Sheffield graduate Jeremy Grantham – is to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges.

The focus will be on advancing the science that will help humans live in a more sustainable way, and will build on the university’s global reputation for research in areas such as food, energy and security.

As part of the mission the centre will develop a team of young researchers working in science, engineering, medicine and social science.

The Grantham Scholars will be equipped to lead the changes in behaviour and understanding that are required to ensure a sustainable future.

Their projects will build on the work of the university’s established Project Sunshine, ranging from studying plant and soil structures, encouraging sustainable shopping habits and examining political processes to building a small unmanned aircraft to locate weeds on farmers’ fields.

Other work will assess the impact of climate change on crop yields in Europe, identifying and isolating genes for engineering improved drought tolerance of crops in a CO2-rich world.

Many of the issues came up at a first symposium at the centre, which also discussed global food issues.

Associate director Dr Colin Osborne said: “It’s really exciting to have the Grantham Scholars beginning these ambitious and innovative projects to develop solutions to the problems of global food security. They are a new generation of researchers who will be trained as advocates for sustainability.”