Plants & People

AoBP ECOS Awardee Larry York

“Knowledge is empowering and should be free to all”

The AoBP ECOS Awards celebrate researchers who have dedicated considerable efforts to advancing the goals and ideals of open science. Today we focus on the achievements of Larry York (Noble Research Institute), one of three recipients of the 2020 ECOS Awards. Larry impressed the judging panel as a true advocate for open science with an exemplary track record that includes open access publications, open source software packages and openly available datasets. Below you can read about Larry’s work and how he feels his ECOS award will help to incentivise open science at his institution.

A passion to share knowledge

Through teaching and open research, Larry developed a love of sharing knowledge with others. Part of his commitment to open science is driven by an ethical belief that knowledge is empowering and should be free to all for personal betterment and the benefit of society. Larry is highly passionate about sharing knowledge, especially about roots, both at his own institution and with the wider community. He is very active on Twitter (@LarryMattYork and @RootPhenomics) and runs the @RootBiologyNews account to enable easy access to information about plant roots.

Leading by example

Larry hopes the AoBP ECOS award will help popularize open science practices at his home institution and inspire other plant researchers to do what they can to share manuscripts, data, statistical code and software. Leading by example since taking the helm of the root phenomics laboratory at the Noble Research Institute, all publications from his lab have been published open access, data has been made available online and two open source software packages have been released on GitHub and Zenodo. He has also advocated for embracing open science practices at his institution and co-wrote a framework to facilitate this as part of his service on Data Management Committee. Larry has also organized and co-organized several workshops focusing on root phenotyping, such as one organized with IPPN at Noble in 2019, and an upcoming online workshop co-organized with Dr. Lindsay Triplett and the American Phytopathological Society.

Open source root phenomics

Larry is super excited about the latest open science project to come out of the root phenomics lab. RhizoVision Explorer (above) is a new, free, and open source software package developed by root biologists for anyone who wants to include root measurements in their work (public release expected by the end of September, 2020). The hardware plans for his lab’s RhizoVision Crown phenotyping platform are also extensively documented and have been shared online. The lab has released a preprint on phenotyping nutrient uptake rates by roots, and is currently working on a manuscript focusing on root respiration. Future platforms are planned for lab and field shoot imaging (such as the imaging cart shown below).

Useful links to Larry’s work

Larry’s Google Scholar profile

Larry’s ORCID

Noble Institute Root Phenomics Lab website

Larry’s Twitter

Root Phenomics Lab Twitter

Researcher profile

Larry grew up in southeastern Kentucky, nestled in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and completed his undergraduate in biology at the University of Kentucky in 2006. Towards the end of his undergraduate program, he got interested in an ecological modeling problem involving root interactions and has been passionate about root biology since. He completed his PhD in ecology from Pennsylvania State University in 2014. His dissertation research focused on the interactions of maize root system architecture, physiology, and the environment for nitrogen uptake. He completed postdoctoral positions at the University of Nottingham and the University of Missouri before joining the faculty at the Noble Research Institute, a non-profit agricultural research organization, in 2017. There, he established the root phenomics lab where current work focuses on whole-plant architecture and physiology with active employment of the functional phenomics pipeline, especially with regards to optimizing root carbon budgets and uptake ability. Future plans include studying more about the roles roots play in soil health, and even transferring software developed for plant phenotyping to soil phenotyping.