Schedule and Speakers

2019 Plant Sciences Symposium

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019


The Guelph Plant Sciences Symposium is bringing together several remarkable individuals with diverse perspectives and backgrounds to speak about current trends in plant sciences, such as handling big data, machine learning, and using cutting-edge technology for agricultural uses. 

The day-long seminar is completely free to attend, with meals included. 

Event Location:


The OAC Centennial Arboretum Centre
200 Arboretum Road, Guelph, ON

  • Near the corner of Victoria Street South and College Avenue East. 

Free parking is available!




2019 Program (to be finalized)

8:00 AM  Registration opens 
8:40 AM  Opening remarks from organizers and Corteva Representatives 
9:00 AM  Corteva Representative Speaker (TBD)
9:25 AM  Dr. Alan KerEconomic Modeling in Agriculture
9:50 AM Coffee Break
10:05 AM  Dr. Michael Pautler-Gene Editing
10:30 AM  Dr. James Schnable- High-throughput Phenotyping
10:55 AM Graduate Student Speaker- Travel Award Winner
11:15 AM Speaker (TBD)
11:40 AM - 1:10 PM Lunch and Poster Session  
1:10 PM Graduate Student Speaker- Travel Award Winner
1:30 PM Dr. Marcel SchlafTransforming Renewable Biomass
1:55 PM Thank you to speakers, Poster prizes awarded and coffee break
2:30 PM Blair Hodgson & Michael Whyte- Workshop on Data Visualization
4:00 PM End of Univeristy of Guelph Plant Sciences Symposium

Speaker Biographies 

To be updated soon!

Dr. Michael Pautler is a Research Scientist in Applied Genomics at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. His Research interests include broad-range disease resistance in greenhouse vegetables and mutation-based trait development. Dr. Pautler also leads the operations of Platform Genetics, a trait development and genomics services company. Dr. Pautler is an experienced molecular biologist, an expert in plant developmental genetics and trait development, and he has specialized in genetic mapping, positional cloning, molecular cloning, mutagenesis, next-gen DNA sequencing, gene expression analysis, and marker-assisted selection! 


Dr. James Schnable is an assistant professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the Univeristy of Nebraska. His research focuses on computational biology, cross-species functional genomics, and high-throughput phenotyping. The Schnable lab includes a diverse set of applied plant breeders, biochemists, engineers, computer scientists, and statisticians. Their recent work includes identifying mechanisms conferring low temperature tolerance in maize, sorghum, and frost tolerant relatives, and using in-plant and in-soil microsensors for high-throughput phenotyping of root nitrogen uptake and nitrogen use efficiency. 


Dr. Marcel Schlaf is an professor in the Department of Chemistry at the Univeristy of Guelph. The research he has focused on includes biomass conversion through selective deoxygenation. What's does that mean, and how does it relate to plant sciences? The objective of their research is to use renewable biomass, (i.e., carbohydrates & sugars) and their derivatives (e.g., furanics such as furfural) as carbon sources to make the exact same chemicals we now make from crude oil. For example, making the components of NYLON from corn sugar or components of polyurethane foams or high-energy density jet-fuel from corn cobs - rather than crude oil. By using the by-products of the agricultural and forestry industries, they can use renewable carbon sources to create "drop-in" technology for existing large-scale chemical processes based on fossil carbon sources - and we are talking potentially megatons/years here!! 

Dr. Alan Ker is the Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy, and a Professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph. He is also the Managing Editor for the Journal of Agricultural Economics, and the Ontario Agricultural COllege Research Chair in Agricultural Risk and Policy. Dr. Kerr has traveled worldwide to host conferences and discuss issues regarding current policy in agricultural economics, statitics, and law. His current research focuses on the link between climate change, innovation, and yield volatiles. His research will help develop methodologies for risk management and crop insurance. 

Blair Hodgson and Michael Whyte are Health Promotion Specialists at Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. They have prepared a data visualization workshop which can help research from all scientific fields communicate their data to the public. The workshop will include critical reviews of exemplars and hands-on activities which will help to understand your data, formulate a plan, and develop your visual solution. 

Student Poster Session

If you are interested in presenting a poster at the 2019 Plant Sciences Symposium, please submit your abstract when completing your registration. The number of posters is limited, so please register as soon as possible. The prizes for the first, second, and third place posters ($300, $200, $100, respectively) will be awarded at the Closing Remarks. 

Please have your poster abstract (250 words max) ready to submit during registration on EventBrite.

The deadline for Poster Abstract submission is: Tuesday October 29th, 5:00 PM. 

We will accept a maximum of 15 posters. The selected entrants will be notified via email. 

Travel Grants

We are offering two travel grant of up to $1,000 for students to attend and present their graduate research. Interested students should register through Eventbrite, and select the "Travel Grant Application" ticket type. Please submit your abstract (250 words max) during registration on EventBrite.

The winning students will be notified via email, and will give a 15-minute long oral presentation.

All entries will be considered for poster presentations, and the selected entrants will be notfied via email. 

The deadline for Travel Award submission is: Monday September 30th, 5:00 PM.