The 23rd International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR) will be held at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, July 3-7, 2012. Worldwide intensive research efforts on Arabidopsis thaliana continue to produce useful information that impacts our understanding of other plants as well as non-plant species. Arabidopsis studies are increasingly facilitating knowledge transfer to other plants and efforts are accelerating due to the efforts of a vibrant research community and the leveraging of advances and resources that inform studies in plants of economic importance including food, feed and fuel crops. The focus of this conference is integrated across many aspects of Arabidopsis biology relevant to topics supported by MCB. Arabidopsis research continues to impact our understanding of other plants and of general biology. A particular highlight of the meeting will be the session sponsored by the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee, which will feature talks on the MASC Roadmap (from Bench to Bountiful Harvests). In addition, the meeting will feature special sessions on other plants, agricultural topics, bioenergy, systems biology and bioinformatics.

Broader Impacts The funding of this conference will be used to support the cost of registration, housing and travel for underrepresented minorities and/or faculty from MSI, HBCUs and 1890 institutions. The organizers have a well-established program for encouraging participation and providing financial support for minorities and early-career scientists. Previous NSF funding for the 22nd ICAR was used to support 10 underrepresented minority students and faculty, 22 domestic young researchers and 11 invited speakers who were also early career scientists. The North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee began their assessment efforts last fall. The surveys were sent to previous minority awardees and early career awardees who were supported by NSF funding in the periods since 2004. The results of the surveys were quite favorable and document positive impacts of attendance at the ICARs, including facilitating publication and new collaborations, submitting funding proposals and facilitating new curriculum development.

Project Report

In the past quarter century, the majority of plant science breakthroughs have incorporated Arabidopsis thaliana as a reference plant for both experimental research and for driving international collaboration. Thousands of researchers around the world use Arabidopsis in their studies, which inform all aspects of basic plant biology. Arabidopsis is still the plant species with the best features to rapidly enable new discoveries; knowledge derived through its study continue to be applied to crop species, thus paving the way for rational improvements in a variety of agricultural traits. The success of this research field has been greatly facilitated by the openness and collegiality of the community fostered through gathering at the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR). Plant researchers from many countries gather at ICARs to discuss and share the latest research in plant biology and the meetings facilitate dialog among those who may be separated by geography, career stage, and culture. The most significant output for this project was support for seventeen US scientists to participate at two ICARs: ICAR 2012 (Austria) and ICAR 2013 (Australia). The combined meetings convened about 1500 participants and the scientific programs included excellent scientific sessions that featured talks by established speakers and early-career speakers. This project prioritized facilitating access by US early career scientists and minorities that are historically under-represented in advanced fields of science; both groups typically have reduced access to attend major meetings and will benefit the most from funding opportunities that allow their participation in important scientific meetings. Conference topics spanned the breadth and depth of plant biology from the molecular to the systems level, up to the ecological level. and included basic and applied research. The 2012 conference convened about 850 people and the program included 42 invited speakers and 28 selected from submitted abstracts as well as an additional 45 talks in 9 community-organized workshops, including a special teaching workshop for postdocs and graduate students entitled ‘How to be a Great Teacher.’ The approximately 600 scientific posters and talks were presented in topics like ‘Genetics and Genomics Beyond A. thaliana’, ‘Bioenergy’, Plant Hormones, MASC: Emerging Topics in Arabidopsis Research, Systems Biology of Development, RNA-mediated Regulation, and ‘Lifting Yield Barriers in Breeding’. The 2013 meeting featured an expanded set of concurrent sessions and workshops, which provided numerous opportunities for presentations by early-career participants including students, post-doctoral scholars, and new faculty. The conference convened 650 participants and the program covered a broad range of topics including Evolution and Natural Variation; Transgenerational Inheritance; Plant Development; Intracellular Signaling; Energy Biology and Metabolism; Photosynthesis and Water; Phenomics; Emerging Technologies and Systems Biology, and Translational Biology. There also were several satellite meetings on plant energy biology, epigenetics and high throughput plant phenomics. A special tribute symposium entitled "The Simon Chan Symposium" was held in memory of a highly talented early career US scientist who tragically passed away in 2012. The meeting featured 85 scientific presentations that included 36 talks selected from submitted abstracts and there were about 350 scientific posters presented by attendees. Finally, the 2012 and 2013 meetings included community-organized workshops that serve to benefit community collaboration and research advancement and provide career development for early career scientists. In the former category are (1) EPIC: Epi-genomes of Plants International Consortium (2012 and 2013), (2) IAIC: International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium (2012 and 2013), (3) Plant Nutrition in the Face of Impending Global Resource Limitation- Opportunities for Model Plant Research; and in the latter (1) Teach Workshop for Postdocs and PhDs (2012) and (2) Teaching Workshop for Early Career Scientists (2013). Specific impacts of this project include: support of 9 US under-represented minorities, including two faculty members from US Minority-Serving Institutions (7 female/2 male; 1 undergraduate and 5 graduate students / 3 faculty members); and partial support for six US early career scientists (all female; 3 graduate students/ and 3 assistant professors) and two US faculty members invited to present in a special international informatics plenary session. Beyond the numerous important research discussions, these conferences also serve to nucleate additional meetings that contribute to higher-level strategic science planning. The North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC), which is a member of the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee (MASC), represents the North American community; both Committees held their annual meetings at ICAR 2012 and ICAR 2013. NAASC provides a voice for North American researchers and NAASC members took leadership roles to establishment the International Arabidopsis Informatics Consortium (IAIC). The IAIC’s most significant accomplishment was to facilitate and enable submission of the successful funding proposal to develop the new Arabidopsis Information Portal (AIP), which is the community’s key informatics database. Thus, the ICAR continues to be the ideal venue to convene the community to evaluate progress and future directions.

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Stanford University
Palo Alto
United States
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