Nurturing the Next Generation of Innovators in Plant Biology

Ravendra P. ChauhanPractical Learning for Bright Young Minds: The Master Plant Science Team (MPST) program is a mentoring program under the aegis of PlantingScience sponsored by National Science Foundation and supported by several professional societies, including ASPB. The goal for MPST is to facilitate more robust learning experiences among middle and high school students in United States. One of the key objectives of the program is to provide a practical platform to these bright and young minds in order to get them well-acquainted with the know-how of the basic research projects addressing varied aspects of plant sciences so that they can explore their interests within the domains of plant biology. I believe that through the MPST program we are nurturing the next generation of innovators in plant biology.

Networking & Mentoring: The MPST program runs on notably robust networking among administrators, school teachers, scientist mentors, liaisons and of course, students. The MPST mentors are graduate students enrolled in programs related to plant science as well as post-doctoral researchers in the field. The key role of the mentors is to make sure that students understand their projects clearly and to advise them in experimental design for successful execution of their research projects. There are a number of high schools across the country participating in this program. I was fortunate to be selected as an MPST mentor for the 2014-2015 session.

Intriguing Experimentation: It’s been a wonderful experience which included discussing science with students in my capacity as a mentor. It was great to see how rationally high school students can think and have the ability to carry out their research experiments pretty much independently. I have been very much impressed with the research acumen and dedication of all the research teams I have mentored. It was intriguing to see how efficiently and flawlessly the teams comprised of these young high school students were able to carry out the experimental designs detailing every essential and tiny aspects of the projects and expected outcomes. It was immensely satisfying for me that my suggestions helped the teams meet their goals efficiently and in timely manner.

Professional Development for Early Career: I believe that participation in MPST program is an excellent opportunity for the graduate students and the post-doctoral researchers to hone their mentoring skills, a much needed tool to be successful as a researcher in the long-term career. The participation in the program would not only benefit sharpen one’s mentoring skills, but also provides a suitable platform for networking within the discipline which I strongly believe that every early career professional certainly needs to have. So I would herewith like to encourage the ambitious graduate students as well as post-doctoral researchers to step forward and become a part of the MPST program in order to benefit the community of plant biology as well as to get benefits out of it while advancing their career.

Growing the Future:  I sincerely hope that the MPST program will continue to provide support and facilitate this amazing learning experience among middle and high school students. It will help prepare a capable and competitive generation of innovative thinkers for a better future of plant biology and its uses in the world.

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