symposium 19 header


Schedule of Activities

Date: Friday, February 15, 2019       Location:  Inn at Virginia Tech


8:15 -8:45                 Check In                                                    Assembly Hall

8:45- 9:00                Opening Remarks     

9:00 -10:00              Dr. Joy Ward                                            Assembly Hall

10:00-10:15               Break

10:15 – 12:00             Student Talks                                         Assembly Hall 

12:00 - 12:20            Break

12:20 - 1:20               Dr. Kathryn Barton                               Assembly Hall

1:30- 3:00                 Lunch                                                       Latham Ballroom A

3:00 – 4:00              Dr. Josh Cohn                                         Assembly Hall                 

4:00– 5:30               Poster Session                                       Latham Ballroom A

5:30 - 7:00              TPS Reception                                        Latham Ballroom A

Keynote Speakers

Kathy Barton


Kathryn Barton, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Plant Biology
Carnegie Instution for Science


TALK TITLE:  Stress and Stem Cells in Plants - A Path to New Breeding Strategies for Plant Resilience?

The domestication of crop plants has often involved changes in sequences encoding transcription factors whose job it is to control development.  Given the truly revolutionary changes in agriculture grounded in developmental mutants of corn and wheat, it seems reasonable a more intentional approach to understanding plant growth and development will lead to advances that can form the basis for solving future agricultural challenges.

Dr. Barton will present experiments designed to understand and describe the gene regulatory networks controlling shoot apical meristem specification and tissue polarization in early leaf development. These in turn have led to the discovery of overlapping nodes between stress and developmental regulatory networks.  Genes at these overlapping nodes have been mutated to generate enhanced growth and survival under water stress conditions showing that basic experiments in plant developmental biology can in fact lead to novel breeding approaches to stress resilience.

Kathryn Barton earned her BS in Molecular Biology (1983) and PhD  in Genetics (1989) at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Her graduate work was on the genes controlling sex determination in the C. elegans germline.  As a postdoctoral scientist she switched to plants, pursuing research in Scott Poethig’s laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania where she began working on the problem of how plants make new shoot apical meristems and leaves.  She was an assistant (1992-1999) and associate professor (1999 - 2002)  in the Department of Genetics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison before moving to the Department of Plant Biology at the Carnegie Institution for Science on the Stanford campus where she has recently transitioned to emerita status.

Reference:  Liu et al., 2016. The Arabidopsis transcription factor ABIG1 relays ABA signaled growth inhibition and drought induced senescence. eLife 2016;5:e13768


Cohn, Josh

Jonathan Cohn, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist


TALK TITLE:  Biotechnology and Breeding Solutions for Drought Tolerance in Maize

Dr. Cohn received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Tennessee in 2000, where his researched focused on Rhizobium-Legume symbiosis.  Dr. Cohn was a Postdoctoral fellow at the Boyce Thompson Institute where he worked on pathogenesis of Pseudomonas syringae on tomato.  He was part of a team at North Carolina State University that sequenced the northern root knot nematode, Meloidogyne hapla.  Dr. Cohn has worked at Syngenta since 2008, where he is currently in the Global Bioinformatics group.  His expertise is in Bioinformatics, Systems Biology and Functional Genomics.  Dr. Cohn has worked on a wide variety of trait and crop protection projects, including biotechnology solutions for increasing drought tolerance in maize. 


Joy Ward, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Science Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Dean’s Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
The University of Kansas


TALK TITLE:   Plant Responses to Changing CO2 Availability: From the Last Glacial Through the Future    

Dr. Joy K. Ward is the Associate Dean for Science Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and a Dean’s Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas.  She received her B.S. degree from Penn State University and her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Duke University. She also conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Utah. Her research is focused on understanding how global change factors such as rising atmospheric CO2, changing precipitation regimes, and increasing temperatures will alter the physiology, growth, and development of plants. In addition to studying how plants will respond to future changes, she also investigates how plants responded to past global change factors, particularly limiting CO2 levels that occurred during the last glacial period.

She is currently curating a large pack-rat middens collection that contains thousands of glacial plants from across North America, representing one of the finest collections of glacial plants in existence. She also studies trees preserved within the La Brea Tar Pits in California and bogs from New Zealand to better understand how the physiologies of ancient trees have been affected by CO2 and climate change over tens of thousands of years.




Registration for oral and poster competitions closes 1/15/19.

Regular attendee-only registration closes 2/3/19


Drs. Eric Beers &
Amy Brunner