The June 2020 Gordon Research Conference (GRC) “Multiscale Plant Vascular Biology” concentrates on the subtopic “Assessing Plant Vascular Function Through Optical Approaches.” Conference speakers will highlight novel optical approaches that are currently being deployed to assess plant acquisition and movement of water from the scale of gene expression through cellular, tissue, whole plant, landscape, and global levels. The conference draws together researchers from the full spectrum of perspectives on water use by plants and allows interaction between researchers who typically do not attend the same conferences. The conveners will share cutting-edge state of knowledge research advances and attendees will learn about resources (people and ideas) to advance their own research. Preceding the primary conference, there will be a Gordon Research seminar (GRS) aimed at early career scientists and students to help them develop professional networks and learn new scientific developments in the field. Both the GRC and GRS advance a science that is of basic importance to all organisms and social and political institutions on Earth in an era of rapid global change. All life on Earth depends on plants for fixing solar energy in a usable form, as well as for regulation of climate, water, and carbon cycles that affect human well-being and survival. The conferences will facilitate deep thought on the water and carbon cycles on Earth, and the roles of plants within them. The primary GRC program includes members of underrepresented groups in science and presenters from a range of career levels. Of the thirty-one speakers, four are at the associate professor rank, seven at the assistant professor rank, and four are postdoctoral associates. Sixteen of the speakers are women.

Across an exceedingly large range of environmental variation, vascular plants must replace water lost from leaves during photosynthesis, and supply sugars to growing organs. Plants accomplish this by maintaining xylem and phloem transport in coordination with stomata using a complex array of anatomical properties, cell processes, and by coordinating vascular traits in leaves, stems and roots. The recognized importance of plant water transport has increased research efforts over the last several decades, and the multitude of scales over which transport can be studied means that researchers gather at separate conferences; thus impeding information exchange across specialty areas. With this in mind, this conference brings together researchers who examine plant hydraulics from gene expression through to global-scale fluxes. This conference aims to 1) forge interdisciplinary interactions across the range of fields and biological scales encompassed by vascular plant biology and 2) broaden participation of underrepresented groups at all career stages. The conference has a strong track record of gender balance and diversity relative to the field as a whole. The meeting is structured to encourage interaction and discussion. It features a discussion on women’s issues in science, a social program, and an opportunity for junior and senior scientists to pair up with the aim of mentoring and establishing professional contacts.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS)
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Irwin Forseth
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Gordon Research Conferences
West Kingston
United States
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