ASPB / Conviron Scholars program: Supporting Students in Plant Science

On June 24, 2017 ASPB began accepting applications for the ASPB Conviron Scholars Program. The year-long program is open to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students and will deliver an experience intended to serve as a foundation for a career in plant science.

ASPB asked Steve Kroft, Conviron’s President & CEO, to share his perspective on the program.  Here’s what he had to say.

Q:  Tell us a little about Conviron.

A: Conviron was founded in 1964 and is the world’s largest manufacturer of controlled environment systems.  What differentiates Conviron from others is that we are almost exclusively focused on serving the plant science community. Our plant growth chambers and rooms, as well Argus Control Systems (wholly owned subsidiary), provide the precision, uniformity and reliability that plant scientists rely on to conduct their research with confidence and drive the discovery process.

Q:  You approached ASPB about getting more involved and supporting students – why is that important to you?

A: For 2017 we knew we wanted to do more as a company to support students. After all, today’s students are tomorrow’s research leaders. We also recognize the incredibly important role plant scientists have in solving some of today’s most pressing challenges – including feeding a world that is projected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. Global food security, sustainable farming, using technology to enhance agricultural productivity – all in the face of a changing climate – are issues that will certainly be ones that the next generation of plant scientists will be working on. Supporting the next generation of researchers aligns with Conviron’s vision and mission and hence that’s why we decided to partner with ASPB to develop a unique program aimed at students.

Q: What special challenges do think young scientists face today?

A: I am not a plant scientist so will try to put myself in their shoes. First of all, I think a scientific career path is very exciting – especially once you are at the stage where you are able to direct experiments that lead to new discoveries and new knowledge. However, it does take time and a lot of academic cv building to reach that point in one’s career. Early career scientists face challenges to get published in high impact journals, secure faculty positions, as well as secure and sustain funding.

Q: What advice do you have for young scientists?

A: Fortunately there are excellent organizations like ASPB that offer support to students to help guide their career development. I would encourage students to apply to the ASPB – Conviron Scholars Program because of the strong career mentoring possibilities. These opportunities are ones more students should take advantage of because they will be graduating one day soon and the more they can do to learn about career choices before they graduate, the more informed they will be about where to apply their talents before they join the workforce and embark on their career.

Attending academic conferences too is part of the ongoing learning process and part of what the Scholars Program supports students with.  Conviron is dedicated to attending a wide variety of plant science conferences each year and, just like it has helped Conviron to stay in step with what the plant science community is doing, it will also serve students as an excellent way to network, learn from thought leaders, stay connected with peers, and stay current with the latest technologies and scientific advances.

Q: What do you hope Conviron will achieve with the ASPB Conviron Scholars Program?

A: First of all, Conviron hopes to make a difference in the lives of students. The ASPB Conviron Scholars program offers a number of benefits to students and will be a building block in their foundation for a great career. Secondly, Conviron strives to make a difference in the world.  Our vision is to contribute to feeding the world, improving human health and protecting the environment by providing technology that advances plant science and production. This is a mission we don’t take lightly. We understand we have an enormous responsibility to science, our community and our planet and we want to stay true to these core principles. We feel the ASPB Conviron Scholars Program is one way to help the plant science community face the challenges of the future.

Thank you Steve Kroft for sharing your thoughts with us and for Conviron’s generous support of the ASPB-Conviron Scholars Program.

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