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Keiko Torii studies plant stomatal development to understand how stem cells are maintained and how cell-to-cell communication leads to functional tissue patterns during development. Stomata – small valves that serve as an interface between a plant and the atmosphere – are essential for plant survival and for our global environment. Torii’s lab team takes a cross-disciplinary approach to untangle the unique challenges plants face during development. The team’s latest work includes using synthetic chemistry and structure-guided protein engineering to create an artificial plant hormone and receptor pair, which they use to probe and reprogram plant growth and behavior. Through their work, the team aims to provide new tools for biomedical research and boost global crop productivity.