Resnick Institute

Ecology and Biosphere Engineering

  • photosynthesis modeling imaging
  • Water researchers at sea
  • Water researchers at sea
  • post-fire landscape image from NASA
  • plankton researchers at sea
  • Microbe enhanced plant roots


We need to understand how complex ecological relationships are being affected by a changing climate and changing resources, including water. Microbiomes exist in many essential contexts, and one key context for sustainability includes "soil microbiomes", which will evolve as a result of climate change and associated changes in water resources. Scientists have a great deal to learn about these complex ecological relationships, but they also have the skills to innovate new technologies that could, for example, enhance crop growth in harsher environments.

To monitor the global output from these microenvironments, we will also develop remote sensing technologies to study the biosphere en masse. Such technologies will enable us to track major biogeochemical processes on a planetary scale, such as global photosynthesis or methane release. These types of data reflect changing metabolisms on a global scale as well as major geological events, and will help ensure a broader understanding of how the Earth is adapting to new realities, and influence policies that can be enacted based on what is learned.

Important Questions

  • How can we monitor the Earth with airplanes and a flotilla of small satellites with microsensors?
  • How do we recognize early how changing patterns in water availability stress plants?
  • How can microbes in the soil be tuned to deal with drought and enhance agriculture?