Nottingham professor to lead project to develop national research infrastructure

Monday, 31 October 2022

A computer science professor has been appointed Director of the UK Plant and Crop Phenotyping Infrastructure (UKPCPI) to lead a national project that will link technologies and expertise to measure plant growth and development.

Professor Tony Pridmore

Professor Tony Pridmore from the University of Nottingham’s School of Computer Science will lead the £2.4 million Infrastructure Scoping Project funded by the BBSRC. This project will address the challenges of crop resilience and global food security through the creation of a national distributed infrastructure in plant and crop phenotyping.

Phenotyping provides the quantitative data on the structure and function of plants needed to understand plant development and ensure good crop performance. This helps to keep up with rising global food demands and the damaging results of climate change. Phenotyping is naturally multidisciplinary, bringing together researchers with a wide variety of backgrounds.

The project will build on UKRI Technology Touching Life Network PhenomUK to integrate and advance current facilities for measuring plants, like the Hounsfield facility at the University of Nottingham. This facility houses state-of-the-art X-ray CT equipment integrated with automated robotics. The Hounsfield enables scientists to explore the internal architecture of biomaterials and support research into environmental sustainability and global food security.

UKPCPI will link the diverse expertise, facilities like Hounsfield and variety of field sites (with differing soil and environmental conditions) available across the UK with the aim of forming a distributed, nationwide research infrastructure.

It will support the development of testbeds for trialling new crop varieties, including higher yield varieties, climate resistant varieties, and testing response to pathogens.

The announcement of the UKPCPI Scoping Project, and the potential for a full infrastructure project if it is successful, is a huge and exciting opportunity for the UK plant and crop phenotyping community. UKPCPI will allow us to bring together the rich and diverse facilities, data and expertise that exist within the UK to produce a truly integrated, collaborative research environment that will serve and push forward UK bioscience. To do this will require understanding and input from plant, crop, agricultural, engineering and computer scientists. It must be a community endeavour, but I will do all I can to make it a reality.
Professor Tony Pridmore

From 2022 to 2025, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is investing a total of £481 million into a portfolio of research and innovation infrastructure investments to maintain the UK’s position as a research and innovation superpower.

The funding will power ground-breaking research, across a spectrum of disciplines that will help to tackle a range of societal issues, from the impacts of climate change to adolescent mental health.

Funded through UKRI’s Infrastructure Fund, the projects, located across the UK, will strengthen international capability and transform expertise across the arts, physics, life and environmental science, social science, medicine and many more research areas.

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Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

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About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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