2019 Texas A&M Plant Breeding Symposium held

Writer: Beth Ann Luedeker

Dr. Bill Rooney addressing large group

Dr. Bill Rooney, Professor and Borlaug-Monsanto Chair for Plant Breeding and International Crop Improvement, discussed the use of genome prediction for crop improvement. (Texas A&M Soil and Crop Sciences photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

Soil and Crop Sciences and Horticulture graduate students teamed up once again to host the Texas A&M University Plant Breeding Symposium at the Memorial Student Center February 21.

This is the fourth year for student-run symposium, and the event keeps getting bigger and better. Since its inception the symposium has been attended by 1,200 scientists and graduate students either in person or via the live webinar broadcast.

group of young people posing for photo

Graduate student organizers of the symposium were (from left to right) Jales Fonseca, Yu-ya Liang, Nolan Bentley, Cynthia Sias, Jeewan Pandey, Anil Adhikari, and Roy Davis.

Plant Breeders, Assemble! was the theme for this year, with a focus on how interdisciplinary teams are working together for plant improvement. Keynote speakers included Dr. Tabare Abadie of Corteva, Dr. Matthew Rouse of the USDA-ARS, Dr. Jose Crossa of CIMMYT, and Dr. Bill Rooney, TAMU Professor and Borlaug-Monsanto Chair for Plant Breeding and International Crop Improvement.

Three travel scholarships were provided by Corteva to bring students from other universities to present their research posters at this symposium. The winners of those scholarships were Gina Sideli, a Ph.D. student in Hortuculture and Agronomy at the University of California-Davis; Bal Maharajan, a Master’s student in Plant Biotechnology at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and Alexander Susko, a Ph.D. student in Plant Breeding at the University of Minnesota.

three female graduate students standing together

Ranjita Thapa, April DeMell and Ammani Kyanam were the graduate students selected to speak at the symposium.

Three Texas A&M students were given the opportunity to speak at the symposium in addition to presenting their research posters. Those speakers were April DeMell a Master’s student in Plant Pathology; Ammani Kyanam, a Ph.D. student in Plant breeding under Dr. Bill Rooney; and Ranjita Thapa, a Ph.D. Plant Breeding student under Dr. Michael Thomson.

Winners in the poster competiton were Stephany Toinga, 1st; Aditi Raju, 2nd; and Lauren Fedinia 3rd.

young woman talking by research poster

Stephany Toinga placed first with in the research poster competition. (Texas A&M Soil and Crop Sciences photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

Young woman talking

Graduate student Yu-ya Liang introduces a speaker during the afternoon session of the symposium.


crowd of people looking at a line of posters

More than 40 graduate students presented their research posters during the Plant Breeding Symposium.

young man at microphone

Graduate student Jales Fonseca introduced the speakers during the morning session. (Texas A&M Soil and Crop Sciences photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

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