John Cushman is a professor in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is project leader on a $14 million study, funded by the Department of Energy Genonomic Sciences division, to move the water-use-efficient photosynthesis characteristics from drought-tolerant plants like agave and cactus into woody biomass plants like poplar, which can hedge against predicted long-term increases in temperatures and reduced precipitation. The team, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will develop novel technologies to re-design bioenergy crops to grow on marginal agricultural lands and produce yields of biomass that can readily be converted to biofuels. Cushman is standing next to opuntia or prickly pear cactus. Opuntia is an example of the type of plant species that bear the water-wise trait being studied and thus can be grown in semi-arid regions around the world. Photo courtesy of University of Nevada, Reno.