14th Annual Plant Sciences Symposium

The UW – Madison Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council (PSGSC) is excited to host our 14th Annual Plant Sciences Symposium on Friday, November 15th from 9AM – 4:30PM at the Discovery Building on UW – Madison’s campus.

This year’s symposium is titled: Growing into New Tech: Plant Sciences in Bloom and will explore the latest advancements in agriculture and plant science technologies.

This event is part of the Corteva Agriscience Symposia Series. We are thankful for their continued collaboration and support in fostering plant science connections across UW – Madison and beyond. 



Symposium Speakers:

Dr. Alex Wiedenhoeft – University of Wisconsin Madison

Dr. Alex C. Wiedenhoeft is a Research Botanist and Team Leader in the USDA Forest Products Laboratory’s Center for Wood Anatomy Research, where his research program emphasizes botanical wood anatomy, forensic wood science, and biocentric wood science. He holds academic positions at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, Purdue University, São Paulo State University- Botucatu, and Mississippi State University, is an elected Fellow of the International Academy of Wood Science, a Deputy Executive Secretary of the International Association of Wood Anatomists, and an Associate Editor for Frontiers in Plant Science. His educational activities focus on various aspects of forensic botany, wood science for baseball bat manufacturers, and wood science and technology for the U.S. flooring industry at large. Dr. Wiedenhoeft is one of the pioneers of the XyloTron wood identification platform, the inventor of the XyloPhone, and works actively with law enforcement in the US and abroad to bring wood forensic technologies to bear in support of legal and sustainable use of forest products.

Stephen Schwartz – John Deere

Stephen Schwartz, originally from Noblesville, IN, graduated from Purdue University in 2020 with degrees in Agronomy: Crop and Soil Science and Agribusiness Management. He then received a Master of Science in Crop Science from the Crop Physiology Lab at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2022. Stephen now works for John Deere as the Eastern Region Corn & Soy Test Lead coordinating on farm agronomic trials with John Deere dealers and customers. Stephen and his wife, Kaya, live in Muscatine, Iowa.

Nate Kingsley – University of Hawaii Manoa

Nate Kingsley serves as the Seed Conservation Lab Manager at Lyon Arboretum in Honolulu, Hawaii. Before joining Lyon, he worked at the University of Tennessee, conducting phylogenetic analysis to reconstruct species relationships and taxonomic distinctions of bryophytes, fungi, and vascular plants. He also served as the Curation Manager at the University of Tennessee Herbarium, focusing on digitizing the plant collection and modernizing the seed collection. His research interests include population ecology, plant phylogenetic relationships, seed storage behavior and dormancy, and native plant development for conservation. Specifically, he is interested in how biotic and abiotic factors shape plant population dynamics, phenology, and their responses to disturbances – examining the evolutionary convergence of recalcitrant, or desiccation-sensitive, seeds of endemic Hawaiian species and how the production and function of plant hormones regulate seed physiology. Additionally, he is interested in utilizing seed morphology data to trace evolutionary history. Elucidating Hawaiʻi’s broad patterns of divergence and connectivity requires parsing the genetic implications of seed phenotypes en masse from large databases. An expansive new trove of Hawaiian seed morphology data developed by his team at the Lyon Arboretum Seed Conservation Lab meets this need, uncovering emergent phylogenies across hundreds of species by integrating visual patterns with taxonomic context via computational methods.

Julie Borlaug – Borlaug Foundation

For 22 years, Julie Borlaug has successfully worked in international agricultural development, agricultural communications, and external and corporate relations. As the granddaughter of Dr. Norman Borlaug, she works to champion his legacy and lend a voice to his desire to see more successful collaborative partnerships across sectors and scientific disciplines to bring better and faster innovation to end hunger. She is the president of Borlaug Consulting and the Borlaug Foundation. Ms. Borlaug serves on several boards and advisory councils, including the Council of Advisory for the World Food Prize, the Advisor to CIMMYT, the Global Farmer Network advisory board, the Champion’s Council Network for the UN Food Systems Summit, the Board of Trustee for Agricultural Science & Technology (CAST), the U.S. National Food Systems Dialogues, the Texas A&M Agriculture Vice Chancellor’s advisory board, Counterpart, the Thought for Food Challenge Board, and the Global Coalition for Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture. Ms. Borlaug received a B.A. from Texas A&M in international studies and political science and an M.B.A. from the University of Dallas.

Dr. Joe Gage – North Carolina State University

Joe Gage’s research program is focused on linking crop genomic and phenomics to understand how to develop more resilient and productive crop varieties. Current projects include studying how sequence variation controls gene regulation; how gene regulation contributes to genotype-by-environment interactions; and novel methods for processing and interpreting high throughput phenotyping data.