Keynote Speakers


Dr. Philip Poole

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom

Website - Dr. Philip Poole

Dr. Philip Poole Photo Dr. Philip Poole obtained his Ph.D. at Murdoch University, Western Australia on Rhizobium nitrogen-fixation. He did his post-doctoral research in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford with Judy Armitage on bacterial chemotaxis. In 2003, He subsequently established his own research group at the University of Reading where he was appointed lecturer in microbial physiology and progressed to a personal chair. He moved to the John Innes Centre in Norwich in 2007 and later in 2013, he took up a personal chair as Professor of Plant Microbiology at the University of Oxford.

Dr. Poole’s research focuses on bacterial genetics and molecular biology of plant-associated bacteria, exploring the physiology of bacterial growth, survival in the rhizosphere, and how bacteria establish symbiotic interactions with plants, including root attachment and colonization. A further focus of his work is the physiology and biochemistry of nitrogen fixation in legume nodules. Recently we have developed methods to revolutionize the whole research area of how plants control the microbial root microbiome.


Dr. Pamela Ronald

Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States

Website - Dr. Pamela Ronald

Dr. Pamela Ronald Photo Dr. Pamela Ronald is a distinguished professor at the department of Plant Pathology, University of California Davis, recognized for her research in infectious disease biology and environmental stress tolerance. Dr. Ronald graduated from Reed College with a B.A. (Biology), from Stanford University with an M.S.(Biology), from Uppsala University with an M.S. (Physiological Botany) and from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D. in Molecular and Physiological Plant Biology. She worked as a postdoctoral fellow in plant breeding at Cornell University and joined the faculty of UC Davis in 1992. Dr Ronald’s leading role in the isolation of the rice Submergence Tolerance 1 gene has facilitated the development of high yielding Sub1 rice varieties grown by more than six million subsistence farmers in South Asia.

Dr. Ronald’s is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been recognized with several prestigious including such as USDA National Research Institute Discovery Award, The Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, Tech Award for innovative use of technology, American Society of Plant Biologists Leadership in Science Public Service Award, and prestigious honorary doctorate from the Swedish Agricultural University. She was also named one of the world’s most influential scientific minds by Thomson Reuters and one of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology by Scientific American.






International Speakers


Dr. Chris-Carolin Schön

TUM School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany

Website - Dr. Chris-Carolin Schön

Dr. Chris-Carolin Schön Photo Prof. Schön’s research focuses on the optimization of agricultural processes through the integration of molecular biology technologies. It primarily involves the use of molecular markers in breeding crop plants. Her work is also concerned with the characterization of native biodiversity and the identification of its functional characteristics as well as the development of optimized breeding strategies for different complex properties.

Prof. Schön obtained an M.S. in Crop Science at Oregon State University, USA and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding at Hohenheim University. She worked at KWS SAAT AG, a plant breeding company, after her Ph.D., and later joined as Director of the State Plant Breeding Institute at Hohenheim University. She also completed her post-doctoral studies in the field of plant breeding at the Hohenheim University in 2006. She has been working as a full professorship at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) since 2007.

Prof. Schön is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and a senate of the German Research Foundation (DFG). She is also a member of numerous national and international scientific advisory councils. She had played an important leadership role in establishing Synbreed, an interdisciplinary network for genome-based breeding research on plants and animals.


Dr. Nir Sade

School of Plant Sciences and Food Security, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Website - Dr. Nir Sade

Dr. Nir Sade Photo Dr. Nir Sade is an assistant professor in the School of Plant Science and Food Security at Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. He was trained as an undergrad in plant sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received a master’s and a Ph.D. in plant genetics from The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis, USA.

His research is focused on understanding the mechanism of crop adaptation to abiotic stress. More specifically, he studies the effect of abiotic stress on important agricultural traits such as water movement and carbon/ nitrogen allocation.






Invited Speakers


Dr. Sarah C. Seaton

Indigo Agriculture, Boston, MA, United States

Website - Dr. Sarah C. Seaton

Dr. Sarah C. Seaton Photo Currently a Senior Scientist at the Boston-based microbiome company, Indigo Ag, Dr. Seaton leads a team of researchers responsible for isolation and characterization of beneficial plant-associated microbes that increase yield and decrease the need for chemical inputs in agricultural crops. The mission at Indigo—harnessing nature to help farmers sustainably feed the planet—combines her passion for and expertise in microbe-microbe and microbe-plant interactions and has direct application to an increasingly important global issue.

Dr. Seaton obtained her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from High Point University and a Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia, where she studied the potential of soil bacteria to catabolize organic pollutants. She completed her post-doctoral research in plant-microbe interactions at Tufts University School of Medicine and joined as a Research Scientist at Harvard Medical School, studying the effect of the gut-microbiome on metabolism and health. Before joining Indigo, She also served as an assistant professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, where her research lab focused on the isolation of soil bacteria that produce antibiotics and other interesting natural products.


Dr. Bing Yang

Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, United States

Website - Dr. Bing Yang

Dr. Bing Yang Photo Dr. Bing Yang is a professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri and a member and Principal Investigator at Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. He received a Ph.D. degree in plant pathology at Kansas State University.

Dr. Yang’s research lab mainly focuses on 1) gaining a molecular understanding of host disease susceptibility and resistance to pathogenic microbes by using bacterial blight of rice as a disease model, and 2) developing and applying genome editing technologies for gene/trait discovery and for engineering improved traits such as disease resistance in crop plants. His group has developed a suite of toolsets for high-efficiency genome editing in crop plants such as rice, maize, wheat, sorghum and soybean.






Corteva Speaker


Dr. Sara Lira

Corteva Agriscience, Dallas Center, IA, United States

Website - Dr. Sara Lira

Dr. Sara Lira Photo Dr. Lira is a research scientist at Corteva Agriscience in Dallas Center, IA. She received a B.S. in ecology, an M.S. in Genetics, and a Ph.D in Plant Breeding from Iowa State University. Dr. Lira spent ten years as a corn breeder at Corteva but has recently turned her focus to breeding for emerging climate-positive cropping systems. Her work has lately emphasized the development of peas for use as a short season protein crop and a nitrogen source in non-traditional pea-growing areas.






Abstract Speakers


Nicholas Baert Photo

Nicholas W. Baert

Ph.D. Student
Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

Talk Title: Genotypic Variation in Maize Nodal Root Growth Response to Water Deficit


Reyna Persa Photo

Reyna Persa

Research Assistant
Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Talk Title: Integrating Day Length Information and Genomic Prediction Tools for Predicting Days to Maturity in Soybeans under complex scenarios


Stacy Lynn Wilder Photo

Stacy L. Wilder

Laboratory Supervisor
University of Missouri Research Reactor Center

Talk Title: Meeting Agricultural Sustainability through Plant Growth Promoting Bacteria: An Examination of the Mechanisms for Improved Host Uptake of Zinc Nutrient in Maize using Functional Mutants of Azospirillum brasilense


Vishnutej Ellur Photo

Vishnutej Ellur

Ph.D. Student
Molecular Plant Sciences, Washington State University

Talk Title: Investigating the Roles of Defense Proteins in Plants for Sustainable Disease Resistance