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From the publisher

A bowl of rice. Nothing could be more iconic as an image for feeding the world. In Asia and Africa, this staple food feeds billions. But as the global population soars and the environment changes, rice production is under pressure. Current yields will not suffice, and shortages of water and costly fertilizers spell trouble for dependent populations.

That's why Cornell research into increasing rice production for coming generations is so important. And that's why our research faculty, working across multiple disciplinary boundaries, are playing a role that one day will benefit the entire world. That's the story we are telling in this issue of Ezra.

This is not only about ensuring a staple crop's future, but also about the culture at Cornell that encourages talented researchers to connect, work together and solve problems with a single aim: changing the world. The members of the faculty involved in this research add daily to Cornell's far-reaching reputation of scientific research in the public interest, as Andrew Bass, our associate vice provost for research, puts it in his End Note in this issue.

Our cover story looks, in particular, at one remarkable researcher, Susan McCouch, a Cornell professor and a world expert in rice genetics. She is inspiring her colleagues here at Cornell and around the world with collaborative spirit that is producing novel solutions for coping with looming food shortages. McCouch, in turn, praises her own institution. "We have a university that allows us to work effectively across disciplines and recruit some of the most talented people in the world," she says.

McCouch is also a terrific teacher, and our Viewpoint essay by graduate student Janelle Jung spells out how a great mentor can point the way to the experiences and life changes that turn a student into an inspired researcher.

Thomas W. Bruce

Vice President, University Communications

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