Steve’s research focus is the efficiency of photosynthesis, the process by which plants trap sunlight energy to build carbohydrates and the wide range of organic chemicals on which life depends. His work spans from molecular and in silico design to field analysis of performance. This is applied in increasing genetic crop yield potential and adaptation to global change. His achievements include: discovery of the most productive land plant known, an Amazonian grass; production of the first complete non-steady state mathematical model of the process of photosynthesis; and the first demonstration from modeling to field trials of increased crop productivity by designed modification of the photosynthetic machinery. The Guardian listed this as one of the 12 Key Science Moments of 2016.
He is currently Director of the $25M Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation international project on Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). Thomson-Reuters list him as one of the Most Highly Cited Authors of 2016. He has recently received the British Ecological Soceity’s Marsh Award for Climate Change Research and the International Society for Photosynthesis Research’s Innovation Award. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013; he served as Chair of the Sub-Committee on Organismal Biology, Ecology and Evolution from 2014.
He is Founding and Chief Editor of “Global Change Biology”, which has become a major primary data source for the Assessment Reports of the UN International Panel on Climate Change. He has given invited briefings on bioenergy, climate change impacts and food security to President Bush at the White House, to the Vatican and to Bill Gates. He serves in advisory roles on key agricultural committees in the US, UK and EU. During his tenure at Lincoln, Steve aims to further his vision of building plants in silico from genes to virtual plants. With the support of the Newton-Abraham Professorship, he started his visit in Oxford with a 3-day international workshop – Crops in silico.