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Om Prakash Of UMass Amherst To Lead A Global Research Team

Press Release

Prof. Om Prakash, an agriculture biotechnologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, is slated to lead a global research team after being named a grant recipient by the Worldwide Universities Network.

The grant, announced Dec. 22, is given to help initiate global projects designed to ultimately impact millions of people in the developing world.

Parkash’s Climate Resilient Open Partnership for Food Security team will include 12 experts from six institutions in India, the United States, China and the United Kingdom.

The CROP-FS team has a goal to develop research strategies to enable major food crops to grow in extreme environmental conditions like drought, high temperature and irrigation using brackish or sea water.

Parkash, along with UMass colleagues Baoshan Xing, Klaus Nusslein and Laurel Smith-Doerr, will approach the problem of developing climate-resilient crops in three ways, including exploring the effect of climate change on soil matrix, studying the effect of changing climate on microbial communities and understanding the physiological and molecular basis of adaptation to drought, heat, and heavy metal stresses.

“This is a truly innovative research project that will have major impact in both the public health and climate change spheres,” said WUN executive director John Hearn in a statement. “The captivating element is the fact that it will provide open-source, scalable information to millions of people and empowering communities.”

Parkash’s UMass team will be collaborating with agricultural and plant scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, Zhejiang University in China and the universities of Leeds, Southampton and York in the U.K.

An associate professor at the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Parkash earned his bachelor's degree at Maharishi Dayanand University in India, his M.Sc. and M.Phil. degrees at Kurukshetra University in India, and his doctorate at Durham University in the U.K.

Parkash has spent the past decade plus as a professor in plant biology at UMass. He was previously an assistant research professor at the University of Georgia from 2002 to 2004 and a lecturer at AIJHM College in Rohtak, India, from 1988 through 1994.

WUN, an 18-university global higher education and research network spanning 10 countries globally, will provide more than $52,000 for the project. UMass, in its first year as a member of WUN, has a second project funded by the organization led by Prof. Richard Peltier.

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