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Chapman Forward seeks to illuminate the global impact of high-level research by the university’s faculty and students.

Biological sciences student Alex Drives '21, left, talks with Carter Berry, Ph.D, about equipment Drivas helped design to advance Berry's plant research. Photo by Dennis Arp.
Biological sciences student Alex Drives '21, left, talks with Carter Berry, Ph.D, about equipment Drivas helped design to advance Berry's plant research. (Photo by Dennis Arp)

Climate Project Highlights Grand Challenges Initiative

Chapman University researcher Carter Berry seeks to understand how diverse forests are faring in an unprecedented era of climate change. While many scientists are studying plant photosynthesis in hot, sunny conditions, Berry is looking at what happens when clouds predominate.

The lecturer and postdoctoral fellow teaches in Chapman’s Grand Challenges Initiative, which assembles teams of undergraduate students to take on some of the most pressing problems of our time, from ensuring a cybersecure future to curing a neurodegenerative disease.

To date, Grand Challenges Fellows have submitted more than 20 articles to peer-reviewed publications and have authored $750,000 in federal and foundation grant proposals.

Berry’s research has yielded two well-received publications, including an August 2019 article in New Phytologist. Through the Grand Challenges Initiative, Berry has welcomed undergraduate students into his research project, which explores the fundamental ways plants function and take in carbon in low light and wet conditions.

Among the participating students is biological sciences major Alex Drivas ’21, who has developed designs and 3D printed next-generation equipment to advance the research.

“We want our students to learn from world-class scholars who are engaging in creative ways of thinking about our world,” says Greg Goldsmith, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences and director of the Grand Challenges Initiative. “Carter is the perfect example of how mentors can empower students to use science, technology, engineering and mathematics to change the world around them.”

Dawn Bonker

Dawn Bonker