2020 Plant Science Symposium Program

Innovation Agriculture:
Population, Production, and Opportunities

Part of the Plant Sciences Symposia Series(link is external)

Friday, November 20, 2020


The day-long virtual seminar was completely free to attend. The event includes a Poster Session and speakers with different backgrounds. 



2020 Program

8:30 AM Gathering
8:35 AM       Opening remarks from organizing committee and Corteva Representatives
8:50 AM Dr. Piero Barone - Research Scientist at Corteva Agriscience
9:30 AM Dr. Max Jones - Associate Professor at University of Guelph
10:10 AM  Dr. Geoffrey Wasteneys - Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia
10:50 AM  Dr. Liang Song - Assistant professor in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia
11:30 AM  Dr. Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez - Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia
12:10 PM Dr. Louise Ferguson - Faculty member and Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California
12:50-2:00 PM   Student Poster Session
2:15-4:15 PM   Workshop
4:30 PM Closing Remarks 

Dr. Piero Barone is a research scientist in R&D Applied Science & Technology (AST) at Corteva Agriscience™, based in Johnston, Iowa. He is leading the transformation and molecular analysis activities to support the development of a platform that will improve the efficacy of double-strand break (DSB) technologies and methodologies. Barone earned a doctorate in plant productivity from the University of Perugia, Italy and has postdoctoral research experience in molecular biotechnology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and plant biotechnology at the University of Georgia.

The title of Dr. Piero's talk is: “A CRISPR future for crop improvement”.


Dr. Max Jones is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph. As a member of the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation (gripp.ca), Dr. Jones works to conserve endangered plant species using varied techniques including micropropagation, cryopreservation and plant reintroductions. Dr. Jones also uses innovative 3D printing methods for micropropagation systems to rapidly design, produce and test prototypes. These technologies are leading to the creation of commercial patents and can be used to study the effects of environmental stressors on plant production. Since receiving a Health Canada Research License in 2008, the Jones lab has also been developing modern biotechnological tools for Cannabis, including micropropagation for plant production and cryopreservation for long term genetic storage.

The title of Dr. Jones’s talk is “New approaches to address old problems in micropropagation".


Dr. Geoffrey Wasteneys is a professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia. He is also currently the President of Plant Canada. Research in the Wasteneys lab is broadly concerned with plant cell biology, molecular genetics and categorizing plant developmental responses to abiotic and endogenous signalling. Specifically, Dr. Wasteneys’ team is uncovering the mechanisms that drive the organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton in plants, and the role that microtubules play in cell division and expansion. Their recent discovery of a negative feedback loop involving the microtubule-associated protein CLASP and the phytohormone brassinosteroid promises to explain how plants modulate their development in response to changing environmental conditions.

The title of Dr. Wasteney’s talk is “Feeding the World with Negative Feedback Loops”.


Dr. Liang Song is an assistant professor in the Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Song’s lab is focused on plant genomics and how environmental stressors and gene expression regulate seed development. Specifically, Dr. Song’s research examines the regulation of genes associated with the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA), a molecule associated with plant stress responses and development, in different tissues or under various types of stress. Dr. Song also studies the linkage between environmental controls, ABA and key stages in seed development to understand trait related to seed quality.

The title of Dr. Song’s talk is “How do plants make time machines? Story of a novel transcription factor in seed maturation”.


Dr. Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez is a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia, interested in vegetable production and physiology. His research examines the efficacy of various crop production technologies including the use of plasticulture and protected agricultural methods (including plastic film mulches, shade nets and high tunnels). Dr. Diaz-Perez’s work also focuses on how various preharvest conditions can influence the growth and fruit yield of horticultural crops within the scope of sustainable and organic vegetable production through the utilization of cover crops, efficient use of fertilizers and water as well as the reduction of tillage.

The title of Dr. Diaz-Perez’s talk is "Shading Nets: Means for Reducing Heat Stress in Vegetable Crops in a Changing Climate".


Dr. Louise Ferguson is a faculty member and Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Ferguson’s extension work is focused on the production physiology of fruit trees such as pistachios, olives, citrus, figs, persimmons and pomegranates. Her research interests in this area include the use of mechanical pruning and harvesting, developing disease and salinity resistant rootstocks, the breeding of new varieties and production in saline soils for these important crops. Dr. Ferguson leads the California statewide Cooperative Extension (CE) programs for pistachios, table olives and figs. The team organizes statewide meetings, short courses and field days in coordination with industry leaders. Currently, she is President of the American Society of Horticultural Science (ashs.org), and faculty for California’s industry-supported leadership program (agleaders.org).

Dr. Ferguson is also heavily involved in agricultural development and knowledge extension internationally, including work related to fruit tree crop production in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Pakistan.

The title of Dr. Ferguson’s talk is “Developing Tree Crop Production Management Based on Heat Unit Accumulation”.


The 2020 Guelph Agricultural Sciences Symposium is a part of the Plant Sciences Symposium series, funded by:

logo: Corteva agriscience

Gold level funding has been provided by:

logo: University of Guelph - Ontario Agricultural College

Silver level funding has been provided by:


logo: Secan Canada's Seed Partner


logo: University of Guelph - Ontario Agricultural Collage - Department of Plant Agriculture

logo: Grain Farmers of Ontario - 2010-2020 celebrating 10 years

Bronze level funding has been provided by:

logo: Ontario Bean Growers






Plant Sciences Symposia Series: Reaching the next generation of plant scientist since 2008