Steve Long

Ikenberry Endowed University Chair of Crop Sciences and Plant Biology
Faculty, Carl R. Woese Institute For Genomic Biology
Faculty Fellow, NSF National Center for Supercomputing Applications
Professor, Center for Advanced Studies
Professor, Dept of Crop Sciences, Lancaster University, UK


Office: 134 IGB
Email: slong at

Research Interests

  • To understand mechanisms of plant responses to both rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and tropospheric ozone, with particular reference to photosynthesis and relating changes at the molecular and biochemical level to observations of whole systems in the field.
  • Establish the potential of mitigation of atmospheric change through the development of herbaceous energy crops.
  • Advance the development of accessible mechanistic mathematical models relating environmental effects on photosynthesis to plant productivity (see WIMOVAC).
  • To understand the limitations to C4 photosynthesis and the adaptation of the process to cooler climates.

Research Programs

Director, Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE)
Director, TERRA Mobile Energy-Crop Phenotyping Platform (TERRA MEPP)  
Co-Director, Water Efficient Sorghum Technologies (WEST)
Co-Principal Investigator, Crops in silico (Cis)
Co-Principal Investigator, A Modeling Framework to Couple Food, Energy, and Water
Chief Editor, Global Change Biology, GCB Bioenergy, and in silico Plants

About Steve

Steve Long is Fellow of the Royal Society and both the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) and the American Society for Plant Biology (ASPB).

Steve has published over 250 peer-reviewed journal articles, including original research published in Nature and Science. He was listed by Thomson Reuters’s as one of the “Most Influential Scientific Minds” in Plant &Animal Science  in 2014 and 2015, one of the 180 “Most Highly Cited” authors in Animal and Plant Biology from 2014 to 2016. He was recognized with the 2012 Marsh Award for Climate Change Research from the British Ecological Society, the 2012 Kettering Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists, and the 2013 Innovation Award of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research. He was the 2013 Riley Memorial Lecturer of the World Food Prize and AAAS.

He has given invited briefings on food security and bioenergy to the President at the White House, the Vatican, and to Bill Gates. He serves in advisory roles on key agricultural committees worldwide, including the European Commission’s Joint Programming Initiative on Energy, Food and Agriculture, the Federal Biomass Technical Advisory Committee, the German Cluster of Excellence in Plant Sciences, as a Fellow of Rothamsted Research.  He is an honorary professor at University of Essex and Cornell University and a visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Oxford.

Recent work has focused on the bioengineering of photosynthesis and its adaptation to global change to increase the yield of bioenergy and food crops. His achievements include discovering the most productive land plant known, a grass from the Amazon, and the development of the first dynamic model of the complete photosynthetic process, which is now being used as a design tool for engineering improved photosynthesis, including that within his recently announced Gates Foundation project. He also identified Miscanthus as one of the most productive temperate plants, which has as a result emerged as a major sustainable bioenergy option, both in Europe and N. America.

Steve is Founding and Chief Editor of Global Change Biology, which is listed by ISI as the most cited journal on Climate Change after Nature and Science Magazine, and GCB Bioenergy. At Illinois, he initiated the development of the SoyFACE facility on the South Farms, which is now the largest open-air laboratory for investigating the impacts of global change on our major food crops and the 320-acre EBI Energy Farm, the world’s largest outdoor research center devoted to bioenergy crops. He was awarded $25M from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to lead the “Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency for improved crop production” project.

Read more on Steve’s Wikipedia page

Download Steve’s curriculum vitae.

Watch The Naked Scientists – Could increasing the production of sugarcane ethanol help to cut global carbon emissions?  Ask Steve Long.

Watch SciTech Now – Steve Long explains how his team is altering the process of photosynthesis.

campus-insightsWatch University of Illinois Campus Insights where Steve Long talks about his lifelong interest in plants and recent work to boost crop yield by improving photosynthetic efficiency.


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