Education & Outreach

BTI’s Impact through Education and Outreach

Intern presents poster

BTI summer interns present posters and research talks after weeks of research mentored by BTI scientists.

The Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) believes it’s crucial to have an informed and engaged public. Thus, outreach and education is a primary institute directive, with efforts to make plant science accessible for all audiences and to inspire and support new plant scientists.

BTI hosts professional development programs linking high school science teachers and students with BTI researchers in collaborative research projects. The institute also fosters research and educational experiences for undergraduate and graduate students and community members, along with summer internships for area high school students.

BTI prepares graduate students for multiple career paths through an initiative known as “T-training.” “Over the last ten years, the situation for graduate students has become more challenging,” says President David Stern, who developed the project. “Five out of six students don’t end up running a lab–they enter a different profession.” The T-training teaches grad students skills such as networking, tech transfer, and communication skills that can facilitate smoother transitions into nonacademic career paths.

T-training is just one part of a larger plant science directive known as the Decadal Vision, a report drawn up by Stern and other plant science thought-leaders that prioritizes key goals for the field. In addition to T-training, these goals include improving the knowledge and applications of plant genomes and plant-derived chemicals, and the ability to find answers in a torrent of data. “The goal is to raise awareness and create a pathway to implement these ideas,” says Stern.

BTI Education and Outreach Mission

BTI Education and Outreach aims to link students, teachers, and scientists in learning and teaching through inquiry and discovery in plant biology. We provide academic and career development opportunities to young people, teachers, and mentors. Environmental and agricultural sustainability are tied to the advancement and understanding of plant research and technology. We increase scientific literacy in these areas, while preparing the next generation of scientists.

Education & Outreach News

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BTI researchers share latest research at ag-genomics conference

The offices of data scientists at BTI emptied out earlier this month as a contingent of researchers flew to San Diego for the 25th annual Plant and Animal Genome Conference. Genomic researchers from around the world gathered at the meeting to network, consult with colleagues and hear the newest advances in genome sequencing technology and analysis. Many BTI scientists have attended for years and presented their work on agriculturally important plant and insect species. The conference occurred January 14-18. Bioinformatics researchers led by Associate Professor Lukas Mueller presented a workshop on their Sol Genomic Network (SGN) and Root Tubers & Banana (RTB) Databases, to demonstrate the newest genomic research tools that they have…

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Cilia receives Presidential Early Career Award

Michelle Cilia has been selected to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), which recognizes outstanding, government-funded scientists who show great potential for becoming leaders in their field and for expanding the frontiers of scientific knowledge. Cilia is a Research Molecular Biologist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, an Assistant Professor at the Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), and holds an adjunct appointment in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) at Cornell University. Her research team conducts transformative work to understand how insects spread plant viruses and bacteria, and is applying this research toward a solution to citrus greening disease. She is one of 102…

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Citrus-growing regions face different pressures

Citrus growers are uniting to save their groves from citrus greening disease and to fund research into solutions, but growers in California face different challenges than those in Florida, report BTI and USDA researchers. John Ramsey, a USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) postdoctoral associate in the Cilia lab   and Surya Saha, a senior bioinformatics analyst in the Mueller lab, recently returned from presenting their work at major citrus greening conferences. In California, where citrus greening disease has only been detected to a few backyard trees, growers are desperate for accurate, cost-effective early detection methods. But in Florida, where every grove is heavily infected, the industry is open to all kinds of solutions,…

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‘New Visions’ of food security from Cassandra Proctor

BTI intern Cassandra Proctor has developed a self-described “obsession” with food security. The first-year plant science major at Cornell University developed a newfound fascination with plants through her internship in the lab of BTI Professor Maria Harrison her senior year of high school. That interest deepened through her involvement with Global Youth Institute and during a summer spent in the Philippines working at the International Rice Research Institute. Now, she’s excited about improving access to affordable, nutritious food, whether that means working for better, more sustainable crops as a plant scientist, or working outside the lab in the realm of policy and outreach. Food security touches so many other issues, said Proctor,…

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