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NSF grant launches Plant Science Research Network

David Stern and Crispin Taylor
Provided
David Stern and Crispin Taylor.

The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) and the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) received a $730,000, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to create the Plant Science Research Network (PSRN).

The network will promote innovative plant science research, collaboration and education and builds on a multiyear effort to unite a broad spectrum of plant scientists around a scientific agenda. The NSF grant will support new collaborations, especially related to the development of communitywide standards for exchanging data and metadata.

PSRN aims to harness the vision and expertise of the plant science research community to support agricultural sustainability and growth of the bioeconomy, in an era where population growth and environmental pressures require careful stewardship of natural resources.

“The PSRN is an ambitious effort to make it easy for plant scientists to acquire and deploy a range of experimental and soft skills. The diversity of plant science represented … is a tremendous strength, but also a challenge to developing a cohesive vision for research and training. Our hope is to accelerate the building of knowledge and careers that will be needed to meet our society’s challenges,” said BTI President David Stern.

According to Crispin Taylor, ASPB executive director, “The PSRN will use dedicated workshops to devise novel solutions to broaden participation in plant sciences and to reimagine plant science graduate student and postdoctoral training.”

PSRN activities will benefit member societies and associated plant scientists directly by ensuring that researchers are aware of each other’s efforts, which will yield more opportunities for collaboration, especially interdisciplinary projects that enrich the body of plant science knowledge. The network will promote a cohesive message from the plant community and actively engage other organizations. The network also will create recruitment and training opportunities for young scientists and broaden participation of underrepresented groups in the plant sciences.

Founding PSRN members include the Alliance of Crop, Soil and Environmental Science Societies, the American Phytopathological Society, the American Society for Horticultural Science, the Botanical Society of America, the Genetics Society of America and the Council on Undergraduate Research.

The Plant Science Exchange website (plantae.org) launches this fall and will facilitate effective data management and sharing between PSRN members and connect members of scientific societies to share information about meetings and events, job postings, educational programs and opportunities for funding in the plant sciences.

Natalie Henkhaus is the executive coordinator of the PSRN. Contact her for further information.

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John Carberry