Loren Rieseberg is a botanist who studies plant evolution. Through researching the genetics of sunflowers, he has shown that new plant species naturally arise through crossbreeding, with new hybrid gene combinations allowing species to colonise extreme environments. He also developed a computer simulation to estimate the frequency of different evolutionary outcomes of plant crossbreeding.
Loren’s research aims to develop sunflower breeds that can make the most of their environment and grow in harsh climates. His research maps and identifies the gene sequences of unique, wild sunflowers and uses that information to cultivate domestic sunflowers that are more resilient with higher crop yields.
As the sunflower is an important food crop, Loren’s work has implications for global food supply through helping to combat famine in developing countries. He has published over 300 scientific papers, is a past winner of the Darwin–Wallace Medal of the Linnean Society of London and a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation.
Interest and expertise
Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
Agricultural and forest science, Plant sciences / botany, Evolution, Ecology (incl behavioural ecology), Population genetics