ASPB Education Committee Outreach at the Arabidopsis Meetings in St. Louis

The ASPB Education Committee hosted an outreach booth at the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) held June 19-22 in St Louis, MO. Many ASPB members might recall that ICAR has, since the 2011 event in Madison, WI, “gone global” and the 2017 event marked the first time ICAR returned to the United States; the next such event is not scheduled until 2020. The Education Committee therefore felt it was important to support the 2017 event in service to the Arabidopsis research community which remains a core constituency among ASPB membership.

The ASPB booth featured multiple stations that describe the various programs and resources available through ASPB and affiliated groups including the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) funding opportunity,the ASPB Master Educator Program and, notably, the plant Biology Learning Objectives, Outreach Materials and Education funding program. We were pleased allot a booth station that featured the work of 2016 BLOOME grant recipients Dr. Erich Grotewold (PI) and Courtney Price of the Center for Applied Plant Sciences and the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center, Ohio State University (see inset below). The ASPB booth also featured new resources from the Genetic Resource Development Program (Scott Woody and Rick Amasino, University of Wisconsin-Madison), including living and lighted plant populations as well as “GameteMaker” a genetic mapping simulation “app” that enables students to propagate simulated F2 populations in which mutant alleles of various sorts are segregating and then to apply PCR-based molecular marker assays to virtually map causitive mutant loci (

Special thanks for making the ICAR outreach event a success are owed to new Education Committee Coordinator Winnie Nham who, faced with two almost overlapping outreach events (ICAR and PB17), experienced an early “trial by fire” and provided outstanding support for both. Special thanks, as well, to former Education Committee Chair Mary Williams who, as her already busy schedule allowed, helped to host the ASPB booth.

About the Grotewold Project:

In 2016, Dr. Erich Grotewold was awarded a Plant BLOOME grant from ASPB for the project titled Plant solutions for global problems: Bringing plant science to life through interactive videoconferencing. The project brought together faculty and staff from the Center for Applied Plant Sciences, PhD fellows from the Translational Plant Sciences Graduate Program, and educators from the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in the development of resources designed to engage students and the general public in learning about how plants impacts our lives.

First, the project team developed a new interactive videoconference program for middle and high school students that introduces students to various plant science concepts. This program uses online software to virtually connect students across the United States to a PhD fellow and COSI educator for a one-hour hands-on program that is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. In advance of the program, teachers receive a robust kit of materials that includes detailed lesson plans and supplies for all activities.  The second set of materials developed through this project includes four short, educational videos that reinforce important concepts in plant science for a general audience. The focus of these videos include 1) careers in plant sciences, 2) plants as the foundation of our food system, 3) plants as a resource for biofuels and bioproducts, and 4) plants as solutions to global challenges.

The project team was pleased to be invited to highlight these new resources as a part of the ASPB Education Committee booth at ICAR this summer!

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