Celebrating 10 Years of DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia
Today’s students will play vital roles in meeting the world’s future food and energy needs. The DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia series is helping prepare the next generation of plant scientists to tackle those challenges.
Every year, DuPont Pioneer sponsors symposia at universities around the world. These events provide educational opportunities for future plant scientists and give students a chance to interact with top scientists from the public and private sectors. Sponsoring these events enables Pioneer to facilitate greater collaboration with the public sector and contribute to advancing the plant sciences.
Over the past 10 years, more than 90 symposia at more than 40 universities have been held, reaching more than 15,000 participants.
One of the most unique aspects of these events is the role of the student planning committee. All aspects of the symposia are organized and executed by graduate students under the guidance of industry mentor Dr. Tabare Abadie, DuPont Pioneer Senior Research Manager. Through the process of planning a symposium, student organizers enhance their communication, organizational, teamwork and resource-management skills.
Marking a milestone
The series was launched in 2008 as a collaboration between Pioneer and University of Minnesota (UMN). That event was the result of communications between Dr. Rex Bernardo, Professor of Corn Breeding and Genetics, and Dr. Geoff Graham, now DuPont Pioneer Research Vice President for Global Plant Breeding.
Since that first symposia, students in the UMN Applied Plant Sciences graduate program have hosted symposia addressing important topics in plant science, including genomics, innovative phenotyping, new environments and crop systems, and the education of future plant breeders.
In March, Pioneer and UMN marked the tenth anniversary of the series with a special anniversary symposium and workshop.
The two-day event, which attracted scientists, students and alumni from across the United States, began with a workshop focused on computational tools and plant breeding. A highlight was a competition in which participants teamed up to create a virtual barley variety.
The theme for the main symposium event was Domestication and Contemporary Plant Breeding. Experts from the fields of plant domestication and evolution presented their research on the evolution of several important food crops and shared their insights about the importance of these findings to current plant breeding efforts.
A bright future
The Plant Sciences Symposia series continues to grow. Twenty-five institutions on five continents have joined the series in the last two years.
“The series is a unique forum for professional development of graduate students around the world,” says Abadie. “We are committed to expanding the series globally by providing students this opportunity to take control of their own educational agenda.”