Later this week, the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) will convene more than 75 scientists from across plant science to chart the future of the field. The Plant Science Research Summit is designed to engage the broad plant science research community in a process that will develop a consensus plan to invigorate and guide plant science research over the next decade.
The summit will bring together representatives of the full spectrum of plant science research, from basic to applied and from academia, government, and industry, to identify critical gaps in our understanding of plant biology that must be filled over the next 10 years or more in order to address the grand challenges facing our nation. Invited scientists will be joined by representatives of scientific societies, government agencies, private sponsors of research, growers’ associations, and other stakeholders. Summit participants—and those engaging in the conversation on the summit website ( http://www.aspb.org/plantsummit) —will identify research priorities in plant science that can positively impact grand challenges in areas such as health, energy, food, and environmental sustainability. The consensus plan that will be developed will help the nation coordinate research objectives across different public and private funding agencies, sectors, and corporations.
The primary product of the Plant Science Research Summit will be a written report that will articulate a decadal plan for investments in plant science research, describing the contributions of plant science to addressing important scientific priorities and vital societal challenges. The report is expected to be completed in early 2012.
The summit is being organized by a volunteer steering committee of plant science leaders which is chaired by Gary Stacey, a professor of plant science at the University of Missouri and an expert on soybeans, host–microbe interactions, and bioenergy. A number of plant-related organizations, growers’ associations, and companies with an interest in plant science have also signed on as supporters of the effort; a complete list of supporters is available on the summit website.
The invitation list for the summit was developed to include as many perspectives as possible, including researchers who span all of plant science—from biochemistry to ecology, from the model plant Arabidopsis to the commodity crop wheat. Although the number of those participating in person is necessarily limited, the steering committee encourages the entire community to join in the discussions remotely through the project website ( http://www.aspb.org/plantsummit) and by submitting comments via e-mail to PlantSummit@aspb.org. To stimulate discussion and offer ideas to be discussed before, during, and after the summit, members of the steering committee and others have prepared a set of ten background “green papers,” which can be downloaded from the summit website.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) will host the summit at its Chevy Chase, Maryland, headquarters, underscoring HHMI’s commitment to plant science. The institute, in partnership with the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (GBMF), recently named 15 new HHMI-GBMF Investigators, each of whom focuses their research on plant science.
Additional support for the summit is provided by ASPB and by grants from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
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ASPB is a professional scientific society, headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences worldwide. With a membership of nearly 5,000 plant scientists from throughout the United States and more than 50 other nations, the Society publishes two of the most widely cited plant science journals: The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology. For more information about ASPB, please visit http://www.aspb.org/.
Also follow ASPB on Facebook at facebook.com/myASPB and on Twitter @ASPB.
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