3 reasons I attend scientific conferences. What are yours?

By Keir Bailey, a PhD student at the University of York

What was the last conference you went to? Did you take time to think about what gained from it? Here are my top 3 things I took from attending UK Plant Science Federation (UKPSF) Conferences.

  1. Expose yourself to cutting-edge science

Exciting science from excited scientists.

Keir Bailey 2I remember my first UKPSF conference, in 2014, at York University, it was one of the first ever conferences I attended. The theme was ‘Sustaining Life on Earth’ and I was terribly eager to hear Cathie Martin, ‘the mother’ of the purple tomato, speak. Her lab had engineered tomatoes to make anthocyanins, the chemicals that make blueberries a super food, offering a promise of affordable health benefits. It had been in the news that these tomatoes were one step closer to reaching the UK supermarket shelves, so everyone was excited. Over the two days I heard not only Cathie’s talk but many others. I was in awe of the researchers who spoke so passionately and confidently about their work and how they aimed to help sustain life on Earth. This theme and passion continued in this years’ Molecules to Ecosystem’ conference. Continue reading

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PlantSci2016 conference: Plants in a changing world, from molecular to ecosystem

By Geraint Parry, GARNet Coordinator

Geraint Parry

Geraint Parry

Five years after the inaugural meeting of the UK Plant Science Federation took place at the John Innes Centre (JIC) in 2011, the UK PlantSci 2016 conference returned to this worldwide centre for plant biology.

A glance through the schedule for this two-day meeting highlights the enormous breadth of interests found within the UKPSF membership. The topic of the meeting was ‘Plants in a Changing World, from Molecular to Ecosystem‘, and it truly covered all bases with talks on topics as diverse as on the wheat epigenome through to ecological studies of chalk grasslands. Each session was supported by different member organisations. Continue reading

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Actions for plant science in the UK – UKPSF Working Group reports

A personal overview – by Dr Sandy Knapp FRSB

Sandy A. paradoxaPlant science has a broad reach – from molecules to ecosystems, and from blue skies to near-market research and practical applications. The UKPSF was formed to bring the plant science sector together and to harness the power of our community to map out a future for plant sciences in the UK that ensures its continued growth and innovation, while fostering its key underpinning role in economic growth and helping the nation meet its needs and obligations. Continue reading

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Fast-tracking from the Gatsby Plant Science Summer School

Celia Knight FRSB talks to Dr Ed Mitchard

Celia photo 1It’s been 10 years since the first summer school and one of the 2005 alumni is leading his own research in an academic position already. I asked Ed Mitchard to write about his memories of attending the summer school and what he’s doing now.

I’m an academic at the University of Edinburgh studying tropical forest ecology and deforestation using satellite data: but ten years ago I attended a Gatsby Plants summer school, at the end of my 1st year studying Biological Sciences at Oxford. Continue reading

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How can plants change the world?

By Dr Joseph Buhagiar FSB, lecturer at the University of Malta. He received the first overseas award of the Royal Society of Biology’s Regional Grant Schemeplants

It all started with an email from David Urry on 6th January pertaining to the Regional Grant Scheme for 2015. Not that I am usually idle but the title for this year really caught my attention – Biology: Changing the World.

I wrote to David and asked if a member from outside of UK would be eligible for the call and he said that I was more than welcome to apply. So in the few remaining days to the deadline (12th January) we came up with a great application entitled: ‘How Plants Can Change the World’ since we wanted to use our Argotti Botanic Gardens as a backdrop to our own open day. Well, imagine our surprise when we were informed that we actually got the grant. Continue reading

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The Global Plant Council

Did you know the UK Plant Sciences Federation is a member of the Global Plant Council (GPC)?

What is the Global Plant Council?

The Global Plant Council (GPC) is a non-profit coalition of plant, crop, agricultural and environmental science societies from across the globe. It was founded in 2009 to provide a body that can speak with a single, strong voice in the policy and decision-making arena, at the global level. By connecting plant science organizations, we are bringing together all those involved in plant and crop research, education and training, to harness the wealth of knowledge and expertise found within our membership base to strengthen and facilitate the development of plant science for global challenges. Continue reading

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Saving the spud and engaging the public

Potato Q&A“How do you breed potatoes to taste nice?” “Can we use microbes to fight potato pathogens?” ”How is late blight spread?”

These were just some of the many questions sent in by the public to grill a panel of four potato researchers during the last Sense About Science live online Q&A . The session covered the threats faced by the humble spud and what some of the solutions to these threats might be. Continue reading

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The Gatsby Plants Summer School – thoughts from two of the 2005 alumni

By Celia Knight FRSB

As promised last time, this blog will focus on alumni stories.

I’m using the 10 year anniversary of the Gatsby Plants Summer School to track down current email addresses for the 94 students who attended the first school in 2005.  If you know anyone, please encourage them to get in touch with me.

Getting ready for group photoI recognized Jo Hepworth in the photo I posted previously and emailed her. Jo and I had worked together on the UKPSF Training and Skills working group last year. She replied,

“Gosh, 10 years – that’s quite a terrifying thought! I was reminded of it today in a sad way as also being 10 years since the London bombings, which we heard about while we were there. However, I more generally think of a much happier time when I remember that week – the photos are a blast from the past! I still have a CD of the band who played at one of the socials… Continue reading

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The Gatsby Plant Science Summer School – 10 years on

By Celia Knight FSB

Ten years after the first Gatsby Plant Science Summer School, I’d like to introduce the first of a series of blogs to highlight some of the progress made in the science presented 10 years ago and include stories from some of the alumni of their journeys since 2005.

Thanks to the UKPSF for hosting them. I’m keen to hear from any past participant so please pass on this link.

Bretton Hall and grounds

Bretton Hall and grounds

In July 2005, the first Gatsby Plant Science Summer School took place at Bretton Hall, Yorkshire, when the University of Leeds owned the mansion buildings within the grounds of The Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the University’s Department of Performance and Cultural Industries was based there. (Bretton Hall was sold in 2007 and it seems its future will be a hotel complex). Ninety-four end of first year undergraduates attended from the then 17 Universities in the Gatsby plant science network. The opening plenary was given by Professor Sir Peter Crane, the then Director of Kew Gardens and other research talks were given by:- Ottoline Leyser, Angela Karp, Enrico Coen, Julian Ma, Jeff Dangl, Chris Pollock, Andrew Millar, Howard Atkinson. Arts students delivered an entertaining social programme. Fifty-nine participants (speakers, plenary and practical tutors) from over 20 institutions enthusiastically delivered their respective contributions. It was a success! Continue reading

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Highlights from UK PlantSci 2015

Panel1Over 135 plant scientists, policymakers and educators from across the UK and further afield came together for the fourth annual UK PlantSci conference, held at Harper Adams University on 14th and 15th April.

The meeting hosted a diverse programme of talks and discussions addressing issues such as: how we will produce enough food to feed the world’s growing population; how to stop the introduction and spread of new plant pests and diseases; and how to preserve biodiversity and other natural resources. Continue reading

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