Annual Plant Sciences Symposium

The Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council is excited to announce the 7th Annual DuPont Plant Sciences Symposium!

Please click here to view the complete program!

Please click here to view the poster session program.


“Plants in the Anthropocene: Diversity, Genetics, and Biotic Interactions”

DATE:  Friday, November 17th, 2017

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. Registration is open until Nov. 10th, 2017. If you are interested in presenting a poster during our poster session, please submit an abstract here. We are accepting abstract submissions until Nov. 3rd, 2017.

*If you are unable to attend in person, you can also register to participate in an online webinar. Please click here to register for the webinar.


Dr. Becky Bart, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center – “Dissecting the Disease Triangle: Hosts, Pathogens and the Environment”

Becky competed her undergraduate education at Reed College in Portland Oregon before pursuing her doctoral research in the Plant Pathology Department at UC Davis. There she worked with Prof. Pamela Ronald to elucidate genetic components of the rice innate immune response. Becky then worked as a postdoctoral scholar in Prof. Brian Staskawicz’s laboratory at UC Berkeley to understand the molecular and genetic interaction between the important food crop, cassava, and its major bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis. Becky began her own laboratory at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in the Fall of 2013 where she is continuing her work on cassava and expanding her focus to other important Xanthomonas incited diseases.

Dr. Emily Combs, DuPont Pioneer – “Diversity Breeding at DuPont Pioneer”

Dr. Emily Combs is a Research Scientist for DuPont Pioneer in Mankato, MN.  Emily is a corn breeder whose research focuses on increasing genetic diversity in 95-105 CRM corn inbreds and commercial hybrid development for the US corn belt.  She received her PhD in Applied Plant Sciences from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities where she was advised by Dr. Rex Bernardo and researched genome wide selection in corn.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in genetics and development from Cornell University.

Dr. Eve Emshwiller, University of Wisconsin-Madison – “Conserving Diversity of an Andean Crop and its Wild Relatives”

Eve Emshwiller’s research interests center on the ethnobotany, evolution, and conservation of crop plants and their wild relatives. Her research has focused principally on the domestication, the origin of polyploidy, and the ongoing evolution of the Andean tuber crop “oca,” Oxalis tuberosa, and its wild allies.  She has been collaborating with the Bolivian National Germplasm Bank to help expand their collection of crop wild relatives, especially of species related to oca. Her current research also includes an international collaborative project on phylogeny of the genus Oxalis and a study of the distribution of clonal genotypes of cultivated oca as an example of the evolution of clonally-propagated crops under human influence.  She has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Botany at University of Wisconsin–Madison since 2006.  Previously she was Adjunct Curator of Economic Botany at the Field Museum in Chicago for ~7.5 years. Between her two stints as a student at Cornell (graduate student in the 1990s, undergrad in the mid-1970s), she lived in Maine for 12 years and worked in gardens and greenhouses. Most of her field work to date has been conducted in the central Andean region, including a student Fulbright year in Peru in 1996-1997 and a Fulbright Scholar Grant in Bolivia (a serial award with 3 segments from 2013 to 2016).  She has been active in the Society for Economic Botany (SEB), including serving as its 2009-2010 president, and is currently organizing the 2018 joint conference of the SEB and the Society of Ethnobiology.

Dr. Colin Khoury, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – “Food Plant Diversity in the Triticoryzeacchalaeiscene”

Colin is a Crop Diversity Specialist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia, and a researcher at the USDA National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado. Colin’s interest is in enhancing food security, human health, and the sustainability of agricultural production systems through the conservation and use of crop genetic resources. Most of the time he is researching how we can better conserve the wild relatives and farmer landraces of our food crops and trying to understand how changes in diversity in our diets and agricultural production impact food security.

Dr. Robert Raguso, Cornell University – “Floral Scent – Dark Matter of the Plant-Pollinator Universe”

Robert Raguso is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. His training as a biologist began during a childhood of natural history collecting and continued through undergraduate research on butterfly population genetics at Yale. His doctoral thesis at the Univ. of Michigan focused on the genetic, physiological and ecological underpinnings of variation in floral scent in Clarkia plants, and his postdoctoral training at the Univ. of Arizona broadened his expertise to the sensory ecology and olfactory physiology of flower-visiting insects. Raguso promotes the field of volatile ecology through workshops and field courses in several countries, through frequent reviews advocating multi-modal methods, and through co-founding, chairing and regularly contributing to the Gordon Research Conference series on Plant Volatiles.

Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) – “Innovations for Nutritional Security”

On May 7, 2012, Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy was appointed by President Barack Obama to a six-year term appointment as director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The position is subject to an additional six-year term by congressional intent.

NIFA provides funding to catalyze transformative discoveries, education, and engagement to solve societal challenges.

Previously, Dr. Ramaswamy held a number of academic positions, including: dean of Oregon State’s College of Agricultural Sciences; director of Purdue’s Agricultural Research Programs; university distinguished professor and head of Kansas State’s Entomology Department; and professor of entomology at Mississippi State.

Sonny has been a successful scientist, educator, and administrator. He has received research grants from many federal agencies, including NIFA, NSF, NIH, EPA, and USAID, as well as from state agencies, commodity groups, and industry for his research in the area of integrative reproductive biology of insects. He has published over 150 journal articles, book chapters, and a book. He is an award-winning teacher, and has mentored a number of high school, undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students. He has received a number of awards and honors, including being named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Fellow of the Entomological Society of America.

Dr. Ramaswamy has had excellent success in capital campaigns and fund-raising to create endowments for faculty professorships, student scholarships and fellowships, including creation of the Leadership Academy at Oregon State University, support of research, extension, and outreach, infrastructure improvements, construction of new facilities for research, education, and outreach, including the Kansas State University Insect Zoo.

Dr. Ramaswamy received his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and Master of Science degree in entomology from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India. His doctorate is in entomology from Rutgers University. He is also a graduate of Harvard University’s Management Development Program.


This symposium is part of the DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia Series, which is graciously sponsored by DuPont Pioneer and includes symposia at universities in six countries and five continents. Follow the above link to check out other symposia!

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