From chemistry to current events: The six macronutrients that make up a plant (N, P, K, Mg, S & Ca)

In the second of three Teaching Tools in Plant Biology spanning the topic of Plant Nutrition, we examine how macronutrients affect plant growth. Specifically, we look at (1) the availability of nutrients in the soil along with the effects of soil microbes and physical properties on their availability; (2) nutrient uptake from the external environment, … Read more

如何准备在美国的工作和学习?一份写给国际学者的指南

作者:玛丽·威廉姆斯 (Mary Williams)和 顾方为 (Fangwei Gu) This article is also posted in English (link). [玛丽]        对于那些想要开拓眼界,并提高自己英语水平的植物学家来说,美国依然是他们的一个主要目的地。但通过移民系统前往美国的道路却注定不会轻松。顾方为是美国密歇根大学的一名博士生,他愿意向我们分享被美国大学录取的经验。本篇日志将以中英文双语的形式发布 (link)。 [方为] 有多少在美国实验室中工作的植物学家出生在美国之外?如果你翻阅美国植物生物学家协会2014年年会的名册,你会发现许多来自中国,印度,日本,韩国,德国等国家的研究生和博士后。   我是他们中的一员。诚然与20多年前相比,来自海外的科学家有更多的机会前往美国,但我们依然需要花上几年的努力来抓住这样的机会。我从2007年开始准备出国留学,并在2009年获得了博士的录取通知书。对于那些母语并非英语的学生来说,他们必须参加托福 (TOEFL )考试。此外,为了满足申请的条件,他们还需要提供 GRE 的成绩单。在我申请的时候,中国大陆每年只有两次参加GRE考试的机会。这个数字在2014年已经提高到了30次,但为了确保考位,学生们依旧需要提早注册。   在等待托福和GRE考试成绩时,我开始在网上寻找想要申请的研究生项目。我想要从事植物发育方向的研究,所以我翻出了美国新闻网的《大学排名》(http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities),依次打开这些大学的生物系页面,并用“植物发育”作为关键词进行搜索。我列出了那些我想要加入的课题组的名字,并向相关教授询问,他们是否有招收研究生的意愿与资金。最终我定下了我想要申请的7所大学(一般候选大学名单会在10-20不等)。   当我有了选校名单和考试成绩后,我就开始了正式的申请。部分的申请工作是在网上进行的。我需要上传我的简历,我的个人陈述(回答为什么选择这所学校之类的问题),我的三名推荐人的联系方式,以及托福和GRE的成绩。之后我需要将我的本科成绩单,学位证书的复印件以及其他必须的材料一起寄往这些大学。   但这些只是个开头。这一切努力的目的仅仅在于让你在众多申请者中脱颖而出,并获得一个面试的机会。在美国本土的学生能够亲自访问学校并参加面试,但对我们这些国际学生来说,面试则一般用电话或者Skype进行。我很幸运地能够在北京与两名教授进行面对面的面试。他们在中国一共面试了将近50名学生,只有我和其他的5名学生最终被录取。   被录取的学生将在面试的几周或者几个月后收到录取通知和I-20(给学生的移民材料)。对许多国际学生来说,为了进入美国,他们需要有F1类型的签证。获得签证的过程比申请学校要来得简单,但依旧非常麻烦。你能从SEVIS的网站上(Student and Exchange Visitor Information System)得到更多相关的信息。F1签证的申请者需要在线填写一份DS-160表,并联系当地的美国大使馆或领事馆来预约面签。在面签的过程中,面试官会询问申请者一系列关于专业与未来学习计划的问题。由于F1是非移民签证的一种,如果申请者流露出任何毕业后想要留在美国的意图,那么他/她的申请就有可能被拒绝。通过面试后,签证签发的时间可长可短,我当时等了5周。   博士后赴美的过程与研究生有着些许不同。他们直接受雇于实验室的负责人,而并非被院系录取。因此他们并不需要准备院系的申请材料,也无需参加托福和GRE考试。为了得到博士后的职位,申请者往往需要直接与潜在的导师联系,并附上自己的简历和研究计划。导师会通过电话或Skype与候选人们进行面试,而这也是测试申请者英语能力的场合。通过面试的申请者会收到聘书。为了进入并合法地留在美国工作,博士后需要J1(http://j1visa.state.gov/,或参阅 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J-1_visa)或H1B类(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-1B_visa)签证。大家可以从全美博士后协会的网站上(http://www.nationalpostdoc.org/publications-5/toolkits/quick-guide-to-visas)得到更多关于这两种签证的信息。   如果你经历了以上的这些步骤,那么恭喜了,欢迎来到美国!   其他的事实: 一名学生每年的学费和生活费大约在5万美元左右。如果一名学生没有从大学处得到资助,那么他/她需要提供财产证明(一般是银行对帐单)来证实他/她能够承担这些费用。但我们也要知道,2012年中国家庭的平均年收入是2100美元(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/world/asia/survey-in-china-shows-wide-income-gap.html?_r=0)。   托福考试,GRE考试和签证申请的费用都在100-150美元不等。   国际学生的申请费(平均在70美金)往往比美国本土学生的申请费要贵,而申请的截止日期也更早。   [玛丽] 顾方为 目前在埃里克·尼尔森(Erik … Read more

NRC Publishes Review of AFRI Program

Dear US ASPB members: A very important report, “Spurring Innovation in Food and Agriculture: A review of the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Program,” was recently published by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences. A large portion of the researchers in our community are, have been, or will … Read more

Charging ahead with plant nutrition

Teaching Tools in Plant Biology has released the first of a three-part series on the topic of Plant Nutrition, “Plant Nutrition 1: Membrane Transport and Energetics, K Nutrition and Na Toxicity”,  co-authored by Michael Blatt. This lesson starts by describing the central role of membrane transport and energetics in plant nutrition. The proton-motive force needed … Read more

Editors advise “How to publish” at Plant Biology 2014

During the recent Plant Biology conference, editors from the ASPB journals The Plant Cell and Plant Physiology shared insights and fielded questions about how to publish in top journals, to an audience of about 100 early career researchers. Mike Blatt (Editor-in-Chief of Plant Physiology) recognized the important contributions of the journals’ geographically diverse academic editorial … Read more

Next Generation Sequencing: Opportunities and Resources

As part of the iConnect team, I had the good fortune to go to several workshops during the conference Plant Biology 2014 organized by the American Society of Plant Biologists.   ASPB offers a diverse set of venues to acquire new skills and improve our careers by encouraging networking and initiation of collaborations. This year, … Read more

Thank You WORLD!

Looking back, we can all agree that it was a fantastic conference in Portland, full of exciting talks, eye-catching posters, motivated scientists, stimulating workshops, committee meetings, etc. So foremost, Thank You to the organizers, to all who came out to Portland, a special Thank You to the iConnect Team, and of course to the sponsors, … Read more

Plant Biology 2014 Special Minisymposium: Bioinformatic Resources for Plant Biology Research

I was eagerly waiting to write a post on this topic. This workshop attracted a lot of conference attendees, since current day plant biology research cannot move forward without these resources. Unfortunately it was kind of an effort to pack too many eggs in one basket within a limited time which could not meet expectations … Read more

#plantbiology14 Wrap Up

I didn’t get much of a chance to sit down and write a post for the last two days of the conference. The schedule called for a party at the end of day 4 and a half-day day 5 that I’ll talk about here as well as my own take-aways from the conference.  Day 4 … Read more

The “Flipped” Classroom Teaching Strategy

A key benefit of being a member of ASPB, at least for me, is that we have access to several activities to enhance career skills. One of my favorites is the Education Committee workshop. I’ve had the privilege to attend several by now. As a result, my teaching tools box has improved a lot and … Read more

PUI, RUI, phooey…

PUI=a category within academia, RUI=a category of NSF grants, phooey=what we say when realizing a session already started. The Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI) Networking Event had a great turnout and fruitful discussion Saturday morning. This event is the opportunity for faculty from institutions that award no (or few) PhDs in the sciences to connect and share ideas for maintaining … Read more

#plantbiology14 Day Three

Today was a day for personal connections and actually getting an opportunity to see some science talks. The day began with the second in  series of sessions on the challenges of feeding 9 Billion people, with a focus on not just feeding, but nourishing them successfully. David Jenkins, Alan De Brauw, and Ricardo Uauy all … Read more

Communicating Plant Science in the Digital Age

One plant narrative 10,000 years of agriculture has transformed our world. Several thousand years after farming became widespread, people started using papyrus to write on to record information and communicate. Papyrus was displaced by paper and eventually large parts of human endeavor were all communicated on bleached plant fibers; great paintings, doodles and the written … Read more

What happens when “nature’s driving force” runs dry?

Leonardo da Vinci compared the movement of water in nature to the movement of blood in an animal, and concluded that, “Water is the driving force of all nature.” Five hundred years later we still can recognize the truth in this statement. However, with groundwater resources dwindling and rainfall patterns becoming irregular, could nature’s driving … Read more

Plant Science Decadal Vision Rolls out at AAAS

On December 3rd, 2013, the National Plant Science Council partnered with the American Chemical Society; the Alliance of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science Societies; and the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) to co-host a briefing on the report Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science: A Vision for 2015-2025. The briefing was also … Read more