“My favorite plant” winner entry belongs to Rebecca Hayes (@BigGirlPlants). A beautiful embroidery inspired by her studies on pollen transfer networks.
Category: Plants that will save the world
“Plants that will save the world” awarded entry belongs to the (obviously) very talented Ana Valladares (@AnaPValladares). Very impressive maize inspired collage.
Category: Plant science in action
And last but not least, “Plant science in action“. This category was particularly difficult to decide. Finally, Charlotte’s Pain (@Charly_Pain) entry was chosen: a visually impactful GIF of a tobacco endoplasmic reticulum that shows that lab work and art are much closer than you might initially think.
Summary of the competition
28 valid contribution entered the contest, gathering well over 2.200 likes and retweets from fellow plant science enthusiasts.
Most entries can be admired in our curated Twitter moment (FYI, the equivalent to an Instagram story 😉) below.
Earning a graduate degree in the life sciences is all about preparing students to become productive and competitive in today’s scientific field; ensuring they are at the cutting edge of technology and knowledge. However, one aspect of graduate education that is seemingly overlooked is extending outside of the lab and learning how to become a scientist in the global community. This oversight is something that scientists at the University of Missouri and China Agricultural University are working to combat.
In August 2018, faculty, graduate students and post-docs from both universities came together in Beijing for a workshop to discuss scientific areas of expertise ranging from wetland ecology to crop modeling. This allowed attendees to practice collaborating with other scientists internationally and across disciplines.
Joint Scicomm US-China Workshop
One of the key skills the graduate students developed during the workshop was how to communicate science in multiple languages. The students had to overcome the challenges of communicating science in English and Chinese along with explaining it to scientists outside of their disciplines and then take those experiences and turn them into videos, stories and blog posts that the public could enjoy.
Needless to say, the students quickly learned that not only is science communication difficult, but the degree of difficulty rises exponentially when trying to communicate with an audience outside of your native language and discipline. To tackle the language barrier, students avoided jargon and slowed their speaking pace to clearly articulate their points. Many times, the students from the two universities took the breaks between sessions to really talk to each other about the presentation content to solidify what the takeaways were. It was these informal discussions that led to very productive conversations. Students also pointed out the similarities and differences between their projects, allowing for bridges to be built between what would normally be very different fields.
Another part of this workshop helped the students to learn how to better engage with the general public. While in China, the Missouri graduate students performed journalistic tasks in order to demonstrate what they learned and experienced during the workshop. They took video footage, interviewed workshop attendees and conceptualized how to turn all of that content into stories. When the Missouri students returned home, they began the process of creating content about the China trip. They had to make sure all videos, blogs, and articles were easily understandable to a non-science audience since everything would be eventually posted online at https://rootsindrought.missouri.edu/and on Youtube.
Through this experience, University of Missouri students were able to take what they had learned in theory and put it into practice. These skills will help them to have a unique advantage compared with their peers and help them as they move into their academic and professional careers.
There is no
question that the scientific field is becoming more global and the general
public is becoming increasingly skeptical of science. This makes it critical
that we begin developing graduate programs to incorporate experiences that
allow students to engage in the world outside the lab and learn to communicate
why their science is beneficial to society, both at home and abroad.
Supported by NSF Plant Genome Program Grant
no. 1444448 to R.E.S. and a 111 Program grant to Prof. Shaozhong Kang, China
Wheat is the most
widely grown crop in the world, currently providing about 20 percent of human
calorie consumption. However, demand is predicted to
increase by 60 percent within just 30 years, while long-term climate trends
threaten to reduce wheat productivity, especially in less developed countries.
For over half a
century, the International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN), coordinated by CIMMYT, has
been a global leader in breeding and disseminating improved wheat varieties to
combat this problem, with a major focus on the constraints of resource poor
networks — the Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (HeDWIC) and the
International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) — are helping to meet the future
demand for wheat consumption through global collaboration and technological partnership.
By harnessing the latest technologies in crop physiology, genetics and breeding, network researchers support the development of new varieties that aim to be more climate resilient, in the case of HeDWIC and with higher yield potential, in the case of IWYP.
approaches to collaboration take wheat research from the theoretical to the
practical and incorporate science into real-life breeding scenarios. Methods such as screening genetic resources
for physiological traits related to radiation use efficiency and identifying
common genetic bases for heat and drought adaptation are leading to more
precise breeding strategies and more data for models of genotype-by-environment
interaction that help build new plant types and experimental environments for
IWYP addresses the challenge of raising the genetic wheat yield potential of wheat by up to 50 percent in the next two decades. Achieving this goal requires a strategic and collaborative approach to enable the best scientific teams from across the globe to work together in an integrated program. TheIWYP model of collaboration fosters linkages between ongoing research platforms to develop a cohesive portfolio of activities that maximizes the probability of impact in farmers’ fields IWYP research uses genomic selection to complement the crossing of complex traits by identifying favorable allele combinations among progeny. The resulting products are delivered to national wheat programs worldwide through the IWIN international nursery system.
Recently, IWYP research achieved genetic gains through the strategic crossing of biomass and harvest index — source and sink — an approach that also validates the feasibility of incorporating exotic germplasm into mainstream breeding efforts.
In the case of HeDWIC, intensified — and possibly new — breeding strategies are needed to improve the yield potential of wheat in hotter and drier environments. This also requires a combined effort, using genetic diversity with physiological and molecular breeding and bioinformatic technologies, along with the adoption of improved agronomic practices by farmers. The approach already has proof of concept in the release and adoption of three heat and drought tolerant lines in Pakistan.
It is imperative to build increased yield and climate-resilience to into future germplasm in order to avoid the risk of climate-related crop failure and to maintain global food security in a warmer climate. Partnerships like HeDWIC and IWYP give hope to meeting this urgent food security challenge.
The 5th international “Fascination of Plants Day” 2019 (FoPD 2019) is set to be celebrated across the world under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) on the 18th of May. As you know, the goal is to get as many people as possible fascinated by plants and enthused about the importance of plant science. We are happy to announce the Global Plant Council is going to join the FoPD2019 fun by launching two separate online activities during the month of May.
“Enhancing Global Collaborations in Crop Science” blog series
On the one hand, every Friday, starting on the 3rd May, Global Plant Council is planning to publish on its blog a post on the series “Enhancing Global Collaborations in Crop Science” as a follow up on the workshop held in Baltimore last November in the frame of the CSSA/ASA Annual Meeting. First post “State of the art research meets breeding for wheat’s future” has been contributed by Mathew Reynolds, Wheat Physiologist at CIMMYT and leader of Heat and Drought Wheat Improvement Consortium (HeDWIC), the most recent addition to GPC team. Stay tuned for more!
On the other hand, we have another happy announcement to make. Global Plant Council is partnering with the journal “Plant, People and Planet” and launching an online photo contest on plant science that will give all participants the possibility to win one of the three $150 USD prizes. Do you want to know how? it is quite simple.
HOW TO ENTER THE GPC/PPP ONLINE #PlantSciART COMPETITION?
First, obviously, have a photograph/GIF/video taken around any of the following topics:
The FoPD2019 contest will remain open during the month of May, and winners will be announced mid-June. Detailed guidelines are available here. We are eagerly waiting for your contributions and really looking forward to seeing (and sharing!) your pics.
Finally, the blog is back and at full speed. Yuhuuu!