Back to top

2020 Synapsis Symposium

Bringing Back Biodiversity

9th Annual Cornell University Graduate Student Plant Breeding Symposium

When: Friday, April 17, 2020; 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Where: Virtually, via Zoom webinar.  Registrants will be sent a Zoom link to the webinar the week of the symposium.

The theme for the 2020 symposium is “Bringing Back Biodiversity.” Modern plant breeding activities largely emphasize improvement of monocultures that are derived from relatively narrow gene pools, but this approach is changing partially because of advances in affordable sequencing technology and widespread interest in maintaining sustainable agroecosystems that leverage natural genetic diversity to express desirable traits. We are interested in hearing more about efforts to collect and maintain germplasm of wild and closely-related relatives of useful plants, and how these exotic varieties are practically incorporated into breeding programs during cultivar development. Discussion of other novel approaches that utilize diversity to improve plant traits is welcomed. 

Please register here!


8:30-8:45 a.m.
Welcome and Introductions

  • Merritt Burch, Symposium committee chair
  • Jason Rauscher, Corteva Agriscience
  • Sponsor video, Agronomix

8:45-9:45 a.m.
Avraham Levy, The Weizmann Institute of Science: 
Targeted recombination for precise plant breeding

9:45-10 a.m.
Estefania Tavares Flores, West Virginia University:   
Genome editing of Solanum cheesmaniae via CRISPR/Cas9: De novo domestication to harness salinity resistance 

10:05-10:30 a.m.
Coffee break

10:30-11:30 a.m.
Emily Ziemke, Corteva Agriscience: 
Plant Breeding for Long Term Genetic Gain

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Elizabeth Kellogg, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center:
Unexpected diversity of grass abscission zones  

12:30-1:30 p.m.
Lunch break

1:30-1:45 p.m.
Keo Corak, University of Wisconsin-Madison:  
Genomic prediction for screening and selection from a carrot  (Daucus carota) germplasm collection

1:45-2:45 p.m.
Paul Gepts, University of California-Davis: 
Eat more beans! Phylogenetic and environmental origins of domestication and agronomic traits in common bean 

2:45-3:45 p.m.
Chelsea Specht, Cornell University:
The Critical Nature of Diversity: Thinking Holistically About Plant Form and Function

3:45-4 p.m.
Coffee break

4-5 p.m.
Emily Spiegel, University of Vermont Law School:
Legal dimensions of bringing back biodiversity


This symposium is a member of the Plant Sciences Symposia Series, supported by Corteva Agriscience.


symposium logo

Learn more about the Corteva Plant Sciences Symposia Series - - Working with students at universities around the world to stimulate discussions about agriculture.

Organizing committee

organizing committee headshots