Diane Rowland is a Professor of Crop Physiology at the University of Florida in the Agronomy Department where her research program is focused on sustainable and water-use efficient crop production. In addition, she serves as Program Director for Agroecology, an interdisciplinary set of graduate offerings available in Agronomy and Soil and Water Science. She also serves as the faculty liaison for academic programs under the UF Field and Fork program, where the mission is “to provide students, faculty, staff and visitors with the opportunity to engage in a community of collaboration and learning about sustainable food systems”. This program takes advantage of two on-campus farms where students can gain hands-on experience with crops and farming techniques.
In her research, Diane has a particular emphasis on the whole plant physiological processes that can be manipulated through management and that lead to improved drought tolerance. Water will remain a critical limiting factor in addressing food security issues under Challenge 2050, so improving water-use efficiency in crop production is a high priority. Her research is aimed at both understanding and utilizing innate stress responses in plants that improve their ability to withstand water scarcity. Many of these responses have to do with root responses, so Diane is especially interested in understanding root architecture and activity under drought.
Her interest and focus in graduate education has been in co-founding and expanding the MS and PhD concentrations in Agroecology, and in forming two certificate programs focused in the discipline. These programs emphasize a more broad disciplinary approach to the study of agroecosystems, with a particular focus in global cropping systems. The Global Agroecology certificate as well as the PhD concentration in agroecology require students to travel and participate in research at international partner institutions so that they gain first-hand exposure to the wide diversity of cropping systems and sustainable approaches to farming across the globe.