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Student symposium looks to the future of plant research

Concerns regarding the long-term viability of Canada's plant breeding sector led to a plant science symposium for students, held recently in Saskatoon to explore related opportunities for graduates from Western Canada and the US.

March 24, 2008  By Western Grains Research Foundation

March 20, 2008

Saskatoon, SK -There is a looming threat across Canada in the Plant Sciences sector as researchers in the baby boomer generation near retirement and a lack of workers are available to fill their roles. This is an issue that is of huge concern to the Western Grains Research Foundation, particularly when it comes to plant breeders.

This last weekend (March 14 & 15, 2008) a Plant Science Grad Student Symposium was held in Saskatoon with the goal of bringing students from western Canada and across the border to learn about the opportunities that exist within this important field in general and specifically within Saskatchewan.


"WGRF is heavily involved in funding public wheat and barley breeding programs on behalf of farmers with check-off dollars, and because of this we want to do anything we can to encourage upcoming students to consider plant breeding as a career path. That is why we found it so important to get involved in supporting the symposium," says Lanette Kuchenski, Executive Director of the Western Grains Research Foundation.

"Students are the future," adds Kuchenski. "Without these dedicated individuals to take over the public breeding programs and continue the development of strong varieties, Canada will face the threat of falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to research."

There were a total of 75 attendees, with students from North Dakota State University, University of Manitoba, University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan and even a representative from Mexico. The symposium location rotates annually with the University of Saskatchewan hosting this year’s event.

"We were very excited to host the 24th year of the Plant Science Grad Student Symposium," said Leah Fedoruk, co-organizing chair and U of S Plant Science grad student. "Bringing students together from all over to exchange ideas and learn about the research other students are conducting is important to the future of this sector. It is also a great opportunity to learn about the job opportunities within Plant Sciences."

"This event takes a lot of work to put together, but is definitely worth it in the end. Sponsors like the Western Grains Research Foundation are imperative to make this event happen annually," comments Fedoruk.


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