Zach Lippman wants to understand the genes, pathways, and principles that control flower production in plants. Flowers form on branches called inflorescences that originate from stem cells within the tips of shoots called meristems. By studying interactions among the genes, environments, and molecular signals that mediate meristem development, Lippman and his team can devise ways to fine-tune shoot branching patterns and flower production, which can improve crop yields. The group’s work focuses on tomato and related nightshade plants, whose growth programs are representative of many crops. Thus, their findings have the potential to advance agricultural production and help address challenges posed by global population growth, environmental sustainability, and climate change.