Annual Plant Sciences Symposium

The Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council is excited to announce the 8th Annual Plant Sciences Symposium!


“Leavesdropping on Plants: Microscopic to Macroscopic Conversations”

DATE:  Friday, November 16th, 2018

LOCATION: H.F. DeLuca Forum in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (330 N Orchard St, Madison, WI 53715)

REGISTRATION: Please click here to register to *attend. If you are interested in presenting a poster during our poster session, you can submit an abstract in the link at the end of the registration form.

*Can’t make it in person?  Click here to participate in an online webinar!

PROGRAM: Check out our program HERE!

POSTER ABSTRACTS: Check out the abstracts for our poster session HERE!


Dr. Marilyn J. Roossinck, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Roossinck received a PhD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Microbiology and Immunology, studying Hepatitis B virus. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University, where she began studying plant viruses, she moved to the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation as a principal investigator and focused her research on plant virus evolution and ecology. After the discovery of a novel plant-fungus-virus three-way mutualistic symbiosis that allows plants to grow in geothermal soils in Yellowstone National Park, her interests expanded to include viruses of fungi. She is a member of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, and a Professor of Virus Ecology, in the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at the Pennsylvania State University. She is an expert in virus biodiversity, and has done extensive work on complex interactions between beneficial viruses and their hosts that are involved in adaptation of plants and fungi to extreme environments.

Dr. Natalia Dudareva, Purdue University

Natalia Dudareva is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University. She received her M.S. in Biology and Biochemistry from Novosibirsk State University, Russia and her PhD training at the Institute of Biochemistry, Kiev, Ukraine and the University of Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France. Research in Dudareva laboratory integrates the power of genetic and biochemical approaches with metabolic flux analysis and modeling to understand the biochemical and molecular mechanisms controlling the formation of an array of primary and secondary metabolites in plants. Recent work from her lab appears in Science (Adebesin et al., 2017), Trends in Plant Science (Widhalm et al. 2015; Tissier et al., 2017) and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Henry et al., 2015; Zhou et al., 2017).

Dr. Jim Westwood, Virginia Tech

Jim Westwood has been studying parasitic plants for 24 years. He has a B.A. from Concordia College (Moorhead, Mn), M.S. from the University of Minnesota and Ph.D. from Purdue University. Trained in plant physiology and weed science, he became interested in parasitic plants as an unusual category of weeds. He was fortunate to find a post-doctoral position at Virginia Tech working on the root parasitic genera Orobanche and Phelipanche. He developed model systems for parasitic plant research that paved the way for molecular and genomic studies of these plants. Subsequent work expanded to the stem parasite Cuscuta, and his group was the first to report host parasite transfer of mRNA. Jim has served as president of the International Parasitic Plant Society and PI of the NSF-funded Parasitic Plant Genome Project. He is currently a Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Thea Whitman, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Dr. Thea Whitman is an Assistant Professor of soil microbial ecology and biogeochemistry in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did her B.Sc.H. in Environmental Biology at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Science at Cornell University. After doing a postdoc at the University of California-Berkeley, she began her position at UW-Madison in 2016. Her lab uses stable isotope tracing and probing, gas flux measurements, and microbial community characterization approaches to answer questions about terrestrial carbon biogeochemistry, soil microbial ecology, and climate change.

Ms. Gina Zastrow-HayesCorteva Agriscience 

Gina Zastrow-Hayes graduated with a degree in Microbiology from the University Wisconsin Madison in 2000 and since has worked in the field of Genomics spanning toxicology, cancer biology, circadian biology and agricultural research programs. She established Genomics and cell based screening facilities at the Scripps Research Florida campus and University of Pennsylvania and joined the DuPont Pioneer Genomics group in 2008 where she has helped expand the use of next generation sequencing technologies for breeding, transgene and gene editing applications. Gina is currently a Technology Leader in the Genomics group and is responsible for a team that manages long and short read sequencing technologies including whole genome sequencing for reference genome production and targeted applications for the gene editing molecular characterization pipeline.

Dr. Carolyn Lawrence-DillIowa State University

Dr. Lawrence-Dill has devoted over 20 years to developing computational systems/solutions that support the plant research community. Her work enables the use of existing and emerging knowledge to establish common standards and methods for data collection, integration, and sharing. Such efforts help to eliminate redundancy and improve the efficiency of current and future projects, and increase the availability of data and data analysis tools for plant biologists working in diverse crops across the world. Recent efforts have focused on building the area of predictive plant phenomics. Example efforts include service as a founding member of the North American Plant Phenotyping Network and creation of an NSF-funded research traineeship (NRT) program that combines principles of plant biology, engineering, and computer science.

This symposium is part of the Plant Sciences Symposium which is graciously sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, the Agriculture Division of DowDuPont and includes symposia at universities in six countries and five continents. Follow the above link to check out other symposia! We also thank our additional sponsors, Ball Horticultural Company, Valent U.S.A. Corporation, PhytoTechnology Laboratories, the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, the Wisconsin Experience Grant, Wisconsin Agricultural Life Sciences Alumni Association (WALSAA), and UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  


2017 – Plants in the Anthropocene: Diversity, Genetics, and Biotic Interactions
2016 – Turning a New Leaf on Plant Evolution and Ecology
2015 – Leveraging Data in Plant Sciences: In vivo, in vitro, in silico
2014 – Plants and Society: Integrating Food and Science in Today’s Culture
2013 – Transforming Innovation into New Resources for Plant Science

2012 – Emerging Trends and Paradigm Shifts in Plant Breeding
2011 – Modern Tools for Plant Genetic Improvement