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2019 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics prize committee announced

  • Ag analytics competition judged by panel of esteemed professors and data scientists
  • Panel to evaluate models that predict crop performance using real-world data
  • Finalist entries will be judged at the INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research April 2019 in Austin, Texas.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Dec. 11, 2018 – Syngenta and the Analytics Society of INFORMS have announced the judges comprising the prize committee for the 2019 Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics.

The Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics, now in its fourth year, is a collaborative effort between Syngenta and the Analytics Society of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals. The open innovation competition uses real world agriculture data and brings together experts in mathematics, agriculture and big data to discover new ways to feed a growing population with limited natural resources.

Judges for the 2019 Syngenta Crop Challenge prize committee are:

  • Committee Chair: Nicolas Martin, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois; INFORMS member
  • Committee Vice-chair: Durai Sundaramoorthi, Senior Lecturer, Washington University in St. Louis; INFORMS member
  • Gregory Doonan, Head of Novel Algorithm Advancement, Syngenta
  • Sina Faridimehr, Operations Research Analyst, Turner Broadcasting Systems; INFORMS member
  • Guiping Hu, Associate Professor, Iowa State University; INFORMS member
  • Daniel Jiménez, Data Scientist, CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture
  • Alexander Platt, Assistant Research Professor, Temple University
  • Michael Prokle, Senior Data Scientist, Fortune Brands Global Plumbing Group; INFORMS member
  • Lizhi Wang, Associate Professor, Iowa State University; INFORMS member

“I’m sincerely looking forward to working with the remarkable individuals who have been selected for the prize committee this year,” said Nicolas Martin, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Crop Challenge prize committee chair and member of INFORMS. “In addition to the extensive institutional knowledge, industry experience and business acumen they offer, several judges on the panel have been involved in past Crop Challenges in various capacities.”

In the 2019 challenge, participants are asked to develop a methodology that addresses how high-yielding corn hybrids will perform in diverse environments and under stresses that typically affect yield. These predictive models can help plant breeders make better decisions on placing hybrids in specific environments, and assisting farmers with the seed purchasing decisions.

“Understanding how a hybrid reacts to certain stresses like drought can help breeders develop seeds with the potential to thrive across a range of environmental scenarios,” said Gregory Doonan, Crop Challenge judge and head of novel algorithm advancement, Syngenta. “With that knowledge, we can develop hybrids for regions that are less hospitable for a crop, such as corn, giving farmers the potential to grow crops where they couldn’t before.”

The deadline for entries is Jan. 18, 2019, and finalists will be announced in March 2019. Finalists will be invited to present in front of the judging panel during the 2019 INFORMS Conference on Business Analytics & Operations Research, April 14-16, 2019 in Austin, Texas. The winners will be announced during the conference. The first-place winner will receive $5,000; the runner-up will be awarded $2,500; and the third-place winner will receive $1,000.

Established in 2015, the Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics is supported by Syngenta and hosted by the Analytics Society of INFORMS. It was initially funded by prize winnings donated by Syngenta in connection with the company’s 2015 win of the Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research (O.R.) and the Management Sciences, an international award that recognizes excellence in the industry.

The premise of the Crop Challenge aligns with Syngenta’s commitment to make crops more efficient – one of the tenets of The Good Growth Plan, a global initiative to improve the sustainability of agriculture.

For more information about the Syngenta Crop Challenge in Analytics, including eligibility criteria and deliverables, visit

About Syngenta

Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities. To learn more visit and Follow us on Twitter at and


With 12,500 members from nearly 90 countries, INFORMS is the largest international association of operations research (O.R.) and analytics professionals and students. INFORMS provides unique networking and learning opportunities for individual professionals, and organizations of all types and sizes, to better understand and use O.R. and analytics tools and methods to transform strategic visions and achieve better outcomes.

The INFORMS Analytics Society, a subdivision of INFORMS, promotes the integration of a wide range of analytical techniques and supports activities that illuminate significant innovations and achievement in the growing field of analytics.

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©2018 Syngenta. 9 Davis Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. The Syngenta logo is a registered trademark of a Syngenta Group Company. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Syngenta supports but is not a sponsor of this INFORMS challenge. Entrants must read and agree to terms and conditions of the challenge, found with the registration materials.