7th Annual Plant Sciences Symposium

The UW-Madison Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council hosted the 7th Annual Plant Sciences Symposium Symposium titled Plants in the Anthropocene: Diversity, Genetics, and Biotic Interactions on Friday, November 17, 2017. The event was held in the H.F. Deluca Forum at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at UW-Madison and was also available via online webinar for those unable to attend in person. The symposium featured talks from six accomplished and dynamic scientists, as well as a graduate student poster session. See a complete schedule and speaker descriptions in our program.

Dr. Becky Bart
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
“Dissecting the disease triangle: Hosts, pathogens and the environment”

Becky Bart competed her undergraduate education at Reed College in Portland Oregon before pursuing her doctoral research in the Department of Plant Pathology at University of California-Davis. There she worked with Dr. Pamela Ronald to elucidate genetic components of the rice innate immune response. She then worked as a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Brian Staskawicz’s laboratory at University of California-Berkeley to understand the molecular and genetic interaction between the important food crop, cassava, and its major bacterial pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis. Dr. Bart 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 Xanthomonasincited diseases.

Dr. Emily Combs
DuPont Pioneer
“Diversity breeding at DuPont Pioneer”

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

Dr. Eve Emshwiller
University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Conserving diversity of an Andean crop and its wild relatives”

Eve Emshwiller’s research centers on the ethnobotany, evolution, and conservation of crop plants and their wild relatives, with a focus 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. Dr. Emshwiller has been a member of the faculty in 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. She has been active in the Society for Economic Botany, including serving as its 2009-2010 president, and is currently organizing the 2018 joint conference of the Society for Economic Botany and the Society of Ethnobiology.

Dr. Colin Khoury
International Center for Tropical Agriculture
“Food plant diversity in the Triticoryzeacchalaeiscene”

Colin Khoury is a Crop Diversity Specialist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia and a researcher at the USDA National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. Khoury’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. He researches how we can better conserve the wild relatives and farmer landraces of our food crops and tries 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 University of Michigan focused on the genetic, physiological, and ecological underpinnings of variation in floral scent in Clarkia plants, and his postdoctoral training at University of Arizona broadened his expertise to the sensory ecology and olfactory physiology of flower-visiting insects. Dr. 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
“Innovations for nutritional security”

Sonny Ramaswamy received his B.S. in agriculture and M.S. in entomology at University of Agricultural Sciences in Bangalore, India and his doctorate in entomology at Rutgers University. He is also a graduate of the Management Development Program at Harvard University. He’s since held numerous academic positions, including Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, Director of Agricultural Research Programs at Purdue University, Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University, and professor of entomology at Mississippi State. Most recently, Dr. Ramaswamy was appointed by President Barack Obama Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2012.

Dr. Ramaswamy 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.

Although the Plant Sciences Symposium is a student-run event, we would not be able to accomplish it without help from many others. Funding was graciously provided by DuPoint Pioneer, Simplot, Ocean Spray, Ball Horticultural Company, Rijk Zwaan, Valent U.S.A. Corporation, and the Wisconsin Experience Grant. This symposium is part of the DuPont Plant Sciences Symposia Series, which includes plant sciences symposia at universities in six countries and five continents. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the faculty in our various departments. Lastly, we would like to extend our gratitude to Sarah Friedrich and her excellent work designing the symposium materials.