Wednesday, August 22, 2018 - IRRI and Corteva Agriscience™ partner in building a strong global community of scientists that will drive innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges in food security.

Guided by the symposium’s theme, “Same Field, Better Yield”, expert plant breeders on rice, wheat, maize, and coconuts have shared their latest practices and research findings with around 200 graduate students from different universities. One of the highlights of the symposium is the lecture of Cornell University’s Dr. Mark Sorrells. He concluded his lecture on Molecular Breeding and High Throughput Phenotyping in the 21st Century by highlighting the importance of collaboration among different specialists in modern-day plant breeding. According to Dr. Sorrells, “Days are long gone when plant breeders work on isolation. The best plant breeders today are those who work with a team with complementary expertise to develop varieties today”.
 

In his welcome message, IRRI Chief of Staff, Dr. Peter Brothers said, “through activities like this, IRRI is embracing its role as a convenor of global experts that can learn from each other, form networks, and forge collaborations to address the constantly-changing needs of the world. We thank AFSTRI and Corteva Agriscience™ in organizing this activity”.

Participants have expressed their appreciation for the symposium. “The symposium was a great opportunity for young scientists to gain international exposure and network. Not only we had leading scientists sharing their experience in breeding, but the poster session kept the conversations going throughout the evening” says, Juniper Boroka Kiss, a Plant Biology student from the Aberystwyth University, Wales. She is in the country as a participant of the Rice: Research to Production Course, an IRRI Education program for early career researchers and students. “It has been brilliant to spend a day in the company of a great scientific community in the Philippines", Juniper adds.

“It was a great opportunity for us to interact with experts and other students to learn from their experience in other crops”, says Lourd Franz Gabunada, rice breeder and graduate student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Another symposium participant, Margaret Anne Pelayo from Ghent University said that she was able to gain a better understanding on current and emerging technologies in plant breeding, agriculture, and biotechnology. “I can apply this on my work on shoot meristem maintenance in model plant systems with a focus on increasing yield”, she adds.

The symposium was organized by the Association of Fellows, Scholars, Trainees and Residents of IRRI (AFSTRI). “Together with AFSTRI, we are conducting the Plant Sciences Symposium to empower future scientists through enhancement of graduate education and networking”, says Corteva Agriscience™ Academic Relations Manager Jason Rauscher. “We are very excited that IRRI is being a part of this global series to build the capacity of young plant scientists”, Rauscher adds.

This symposium is a part of a worldwide, student-driven symposia series inaugurated and supported by Corteva Agriscience™ in 2008. It was held last August 17 at IRRI  Headquarters, Los Baños, the first time that it was done in the Philippines.