National Association of Plant Breeders: UC Davis, August 7–10, 2017

Diverse Crops – Diverse Challenges” is the theme of the annual meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders, being held at UC Davis, August 7–10, 2017. The meeting is hosted by the Plant Breeding Center, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis.

The 360 attendees from across the U.S., along with some international visitors, were welcomed by Gail Taylor, new Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis. The keynote speaker was Jim Houston, Undersecretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The conference chair is Allen Van Deynze, Associate Director of the Plant Breeding Center, UC Davis. Working with Van Deynze on the program are Professor Charles Brummer, Director of the Plant Breeding Center, and Amanda Saichaie, Program Manager of the Plant Breeding Center. A broad spectrum of professionals on the international organizing committee also helped coordinate the conference.

From left: Graduate student coordinator Anna Levina (Cornell) and conference chairman Allen Van Deynze (UC Davis). (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Brummer noted, “This is the only conference in the U.S. where academic, government, private sector, and other breeders across all crop sectors – horticulture, agronomic crops, forestry, and others – get together to discuss breeding research.”

According to Van Deynze, “This conference is very important for plant breeding because technology is ‘everything.’ We’re covering a range of topics related to plant breeding, with presentations on high-throughput phenotyping, ag engineering, and genomics. There is also a strong business component, with attendees learning about policy and intellectual property.”

From left: Ken Foster (president, Kennan Corporation) and Charlie Brummer (director, Plant Breeding Center). (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Graduate students: an important part of the conference

“About one-third of the participants are graduate students from across the country,” said Brummer. “The graduate students are an integral part of the program, giving presentations and posters, and getting the opportunity to network with plant breeders.”

Van Deynze added, “There’s one student giving a talk in every session, and we have a session of 50 students giving one-minute mini-talks, which is a great opportunity for them to connect themselves and their work to a national audience.”

Poster session at the National Association of Plant Breeders conference, UC Davis. (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

Conference highlights

Highlights of the conference include field tours in the Davis and Salinas, California, areas, along with many renowned speakers, concurrent workshops, poster sessions, and receptions.

Session topics, with national speakers, include:

  • Applying Advances in Phenotyping to Diverse Crops
  • Beyond Breeding for Yield
  • Breeding for Organic and Low-input Farming Systems
  • Intellectual Property
  • Accelerating Genetic Gain

Concurrent workshops include:

  • USDA/NIFA Workshop
  • Early Career Workshop: Mentoring
  • Graduate Student Workshop: Communicating Science with the Public, Food Evolution Movie

Awardees at the conference are:

  • Robert Duncan, University of Manitoba — Early Career Award
  • Robert E. Allen, USDA-ARS/Washington State University — Lifetime Achievement Award
  • John R. Clark, University of Arkansas — Plant Breeding Impact Award
  • Ann Marie Thro, USDA-NIFA — Friends of Plant Breeding Award
Professor Richard Michelmore, UC Davis (left) talks with a conference attendee about a research poster. (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

The National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) began as an initiative of the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee, a forum for leadership regarding issues, problems, and opportunities of long-term strategic importance to the contribution of plant breeding to national goals. The NAPB is the outreach group that represents plant breeders in federal, state, commercial, and non-government organizations.

The NAPB’s mission is to strengthen plant breeding to promote food security, quality of life, and a sustainable future. The association works to help create a future in which:

  • Strong public and private sectors work independently and together to deliver varieties and improved germplasm to society
  • The value and importance of plant breeding to food security, quality of life, and a sustainable future are known and appreciated by the public
  • Plant breeding is viewed as dynamic, problem solving, and creative
From left: Winnie Gimode (University of Georgia) and Donato Titolo (Dow AgroSciences). (photo: Ann Filmer/UC Davis)

(article by Ann Filmer, afilmer@ucdavis.edu, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis)

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