Education & Outreach
BTI’s Impact through Education and Outreach
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
New research finds that the Asian citrus psyllid responds to the citrus greening bacterium by producing an oxygen-transporting protein called hemocyanin. The protein not only turns them blue, but suggests that they are trying to fight off the infection.
Cassava geneticist Ismail Yusuf Rabbi from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria visited BTI and Cornell University last week to discuss his ongoing collaboration with NextGen Cassava.
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…
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…
The genome will serve as a resource for jujube breeders working on improved cultivars, as well as for researchers working on other fruit trees, such as apples.
Penelope Lindsay, a Cornell University graduate student in Plant Biology in the lab of BTI Professor Maria Harrison, has been awarded a 2-year fellowship from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Researchers in the Fei lab have sequenced the genome of the whitefly, an invasive insect responsible for spreading plant viruses worldwide, causing billions of dollars in crop losses each year.
BTI board member and Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Cornell University, Susan Brown, shares her wisdom on all things related to apples.
The NextGen Cassava project, a global partnership led by Cornell University that includes BTI Associate Professor Lukas Meuller, will now include cassava breeders from Tanzania.
Cultivating a disregard for day length enabled humans to introduce tomatoes to the Mediterranean region.
Science policy work is just one of the ways that Ph.D.s can use their training and passion for science to benefit the public.
The collaboration works with breeding centers around the world to develop tools to make the process of adding a trait into an existing, high-yield crop variety more efficient.
The Fei lab releases VirusDetect, an automated bioinformatics pipeline that efficiently detects viruses and viroids from large-scale, small RNA datasets.
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,…
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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Rooting powders, commonly used by growers and home gardeners, had their beginnings in the labs of BTI in the 1930s.
Insect damage triggers volatile compounds that attract caterpillar-killing wasps.
Researchers in the Martin lab develop a new technique to study the arms race between plants and the bacteria that infect them.