Keynote Speakers


Dr. Blake Meyers

Member and Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Website - Dr. Blake Meyers

Dr. Blake Meyers Photo Blake Meyers is a Member & Principal Investigator at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, and he is a Professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology at the University of Missouri - Columbia. He formerly held the Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg professorship at the University of Delaware, where his research group was from 2002 to 2015. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2012, and a Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) in 2017, the same year he was awarded the Charles Albert Shull Award by the ASPB for outstanding investigations in the field of plant biology. He was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2022. After serving on the editorial board since 2008, Blake became the Editor-in-Chief of The Plant Cell in January 2020. Work in his lab addresses the biological functions, biogenesis, genomic impact, and evolution of small RNAs in diverse plant species, using combination of genomic and molecular genetics approaches, with a focus on phased, secondary siRNAs (“phasiRNAs”).


Dr. Julia Bailey-Serres

Distinguished Professor and Geneticist and Director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California-Riverside

Website - Dr. Julia Bailey-Serres

Dr. Julia Bailey-Serres Photo Julia Bailey-Serres is a Distinguished Professor and Geneticist along with being the Director of the Center for Plant Cell Biology at the University of California-Riverside. Some of her notable achievements includes being the University of California John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chair (2017), elected Member of National Academy of Sciences, USA (2016), Hales Prize American Society of Plant Biologists (2017), Thomson Reuters/Clarivate Highly Cited Researcher (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), Professor chair (honorary) in Molecular Physiology of Rice, Utrecht University (2014-) and Fellow of the ASPB (2010). Her group performs research in translational plant biology from gene to field. Her group aims to harness genetic mechanisms that provide climate change resilience to crops, particularly flooding, drought and nutrient stress resilience. Research work focuses from the single cell to whole plant level. The studies from her research work have defined mechanisms of low oxygen sensing and post-transcriptional gene regulation from the epigenome to the “mRNPome” and translatome.



Invited Speakers


Dr. Jessica Rutkoski

Assistant Professor, Crop Sciences Department, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Website - Dr. Jessica Rutkoski

Dr. Jessica Rutkoski Photo Dr. Jessica Rutkoski is a small grains breeder and a quantitative geneticist with a passion for putting the principles and techniques of quantitative genetics and statistics to use in applied breeding in order to accelerate rates of genetic gain in ways that benefit people and the environment. Jessica’s main goals are to a) develop winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) varieties that will help improve the profitability of wheat production in Illinois and surrounding states, b) improve levels of quantitative disease resistance in small grains, and c) develop and deploy new breeding methods to accelerate rates of genetic gain in wheat and other self-pollinated crops. Dr. Jessica Rutkoski received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009 and then went on to get her Ph.D. at Cornell University under the direction of Small Grains Breeder Dr. Mark Sorrells. In 2014, Jessica completed her Ph.D. and then continued on at Cornell University as an assistant professor where her mission was to innovate and transfer advanced breeding methods like genomic selection to wheat breeding programs globally. In doing so, Jessica conducted her research in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), headquartered in Mexico, where she worked as an Adjunct Associate Scientist in the Global Wheat Breeding Program. In pursuit of new challenges and broader impact, in 2016, Dr. Rutkoski began working as a Scientist in the plant breeding division at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), located in the Philippines. Jessica’s role at IRRI was to improve rice breeding efficiency through more effective use of data and analytical techniques.


Dr. Gaurav Moghe

Assistant Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science Plant Biology Section, Cornell University

Website - Dr. Gaurav Moghe

Dr. Gaurav Moghe Photo Gaurav Moghe is working as an Asssistant Professor at School of Intergrative Plant Science Plant Biology Section, Cornell University. Gaurav completed his dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Genetics and Quantitative Biology in 2013 and is the recipient of the ASPB Early Career award (2018). Gaurav was recently selected as a TW Turner Fellowship Mentor and a Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability Faculty Fellow. Gaurav’s research group works on investigating the origins of biological complexity using plant specialized metabolism as a model. His group uses a variety of model and non-model plant species, and using both experimental and computational approaches. The findings of his research work have real-world applications such as in agriculture, nutrition and medicine.


Dr. Shawn Thatcher

Research Scientist, Corteva Agriscience

Website - Dr. Shawn Thatcher

Dr. Shawn Thatcher Photo Shawn Thatcher is working as a Research Scientist at Corteva Agriscience. Shawn received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware, studying the role of small RNAs in Arabidopsis abiotic stress and senescence. He then moved on to a post-doc at DuPont Pioneer (now Corteva Agriscience), employing computational biology to understand the genetic regulation and impacts of alternative splicing during maize drought responses. He currently leads computational discovery efforts to discover and characterize novel disease resistance genes for maize and soybean.