University of Florida
Senthold Asseng

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Senthold Asseng

E-mail
224 Frazier Rogers Hall
P.O. Box 110570
Gainesville, FL 32611-0570
(352) 392-1864 ext.224 fax: (352) 392-4092

Senthold Asseng joined the faculty of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department in late  2010. Asseng is well known for his modeling expertise, organizational ability, and program leadership.

Asseng comes to Florida from his work as Science Coordinator of the Western Australia's Climate Adaptation Program, a multi-million dollar research program which coordinates the activities of researchers at the University of Western Australia (Perth), Murdoch University (Perth), Curtin University (Perth), the Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food, and the Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

The Western Australia Climate Adaptation Program (CAP) is comparable to programs that Jim Jones established in Florida, including the Southeast Climate Consortium (SECC) and the Florida Climate Institute (FCI). Both CAP and the SECC are regional centers which have the goal of delivering the latest in climate science, resources, and predictions to agricultural producers. With this information, producers can plan better for upcoming seasons.

Asseng will transfer the leadership role he has played at CSIRO to the University of Florida. Though his position at CAP was labeled Science Coordinator, his range of responsibilities was broader than the title implies. In the following description of his responsibilities, "CAP" could easily be replaced with "SECC."

First, he supervised the scientific component of CAP by coordinating and developing specific project proposals. This work allowed him to make sure that all CAP projects were focused on organizational goals and that they were part of a coherent research and application program. Second, Asseng worked closely with stakeholders in Western Australia to make sure that CAP research was relevant to their needs. The economy of Western Australia is largely driven by mineral extraction, but agriculture is the second most important economic contributor. Primary products are wheat, wool, and beef, but a wide variety of crops are produced in the state's large territory, including highly regarded Australian wines. Maintaining this relationship is a key to the success of both CAP and the SECC. Third, Asseng makes sure that CAP has strong links to the climate research community. As an applied research group, CAP must have strong connections both to its stakeholder group that needs its products and the research community that provides the basic science. Both of these relationships are highly dynamic. Stakeholder needs and expectations evolve as they become more comfortable and familiar with CAP products, and agriculture in the region is itself always evolving in reponse to market and environmental conditions. Similarly, climate science is experiencing a strong evolution as more interest and resources are flowing into this area, more researchers are producing more and better data as well as a more comprehensive and integrated understanding of global and regional climate (scale aspect). Fourth, Asseng must make sure that there is a steady flow of funding to maintain and expand CAP's activities in response to its two primary constituencies, the stakeholders and the climate science community.

Asseng's research specialty and his background for his work with CAP and with UF's climate projects is systems analysis applied to atmosphere-crop-soil systems. He has a series of degrees in agronomy and crop modeling. His research has focused on understanding the interaction of these three systems and relating that interaction to crop productivity and sustainability. This work makes extensive use of computer modeling to understand how atmosphere-crop-soil systems evolve over time and under a variety of scenarios.

This is especially important for Australian agriculture, which is already feeling the effects of climatic change. Asseng cites a changing pattern of rainfall, but he also emphasizes that changes in temperature patterns and elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide will also have effects. In his work as a modeler, Asseng tries to bring together the influence of these factors with what is know about the growth and development of specific crops and with producer behavior. The result has been a series of computer models that producers can use to make decisions about when to plant their crops. These models are often capable of including the soil types and physical characteristics of specific regions. The models allow sophisticated science to be applied by non-scientists to the equally sophisticated practice of gaining a good yield.

Dr. Asseng's wheat study with co-authors and collaborators from 15 countries was recently published in Nature Climate Change. The study finds that, for the first time, crop models predicting yields for one of the world’s most important crops begin to disagree under climate change scenarios. The team made the discovery by analyzing the effectiveness of 27 wheat models created by top scientists from around the world under both normal and climate change conditions. Their results are reported in a study published online this week by the journal Nature Climate Change.

Nature Climate Change article:
Uncertainty in simulating wheat yields under climate change

Associate Professor

Dr. Asseng's research interests are in systems analysis to understand, compare and improve the productivity and sustainability of atmosphere-crop-soil systems changing over time and space and at different scales. He specializes in impact and adaptation of climate variability and climate change on cropping systems.

Teaching

  • ABE 5646c Simulation of Agricultural & Biological Systems

Research and Extension

  • Research activities include the integration of bio-physical and human behaviour approaches in multi-agent based models to study emerging behaviour in human-agricultural landscape systems.
  • Member of AgMIP – Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project

Education

  • Doctor of Science, Agronomy/Crop Modeling, Technical University Munich, Germany, 2004
  • Ph.D. Agronomy/Crop Modeling, Humboldt University Berlin, Department Agronomy and Horticulture, Germany, 1994
  • M.S. Agronomy with Honors, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 1990
  • B.S. Agronomy, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 1989

Professional Experience

  • 2011-Present
    Associate Professor, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, University of Florida
  • 1994-2010
    Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO, Australia
  • 2008-2010
    Science Coordinator of the Western Australian Climate Adaptation Program
  • 2009
    Member of the FAO/Indian Government International Climate Change-Wheat Expert Team
  • 2007-Present: Adjunct Professor at School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia

Awards and Honors

  • CSIRO Australia Excellence Award, 2007
  • Awarded the “Best Paper of International Conference” jointly with Dr M.T.F. Wong at European Conference on Precision Agriculture, Skiathos, Greece, 2007
  • Research Scholarship, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 1990-1994
  • DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Research Scholarship for USA, 1991-1992

Other Professional Activities

  • Member of the Editorial Board of European Journal of Agronomy, since 2006
  • Member of the Human-Ecosystems Modeling with Agents (HEMA) group
  • Member of GCTE (Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems) Wheat Modeling Network since 1996-2005
  • Core member of European Union Concerted Action on Root Research Methodology organized by AB-DLO Wageningen, 1993-2000.
  • Member of Agronomy Society of Australia
  • Member of Modeling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand