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Graduate Students Host Plant Science Symposium

The Plant Sciences Graduate Student Association of North Dakota State University hosted the 35th Annual Plant Science Graduate Student Symposium March 15-16, 2019. Forty graduate students from NDSU, South Dakota State University, University of Manitoba, and University of Saskatchewan attended. Several NDSU students received awards for their presentations.

March 25, 2019

The Plant Sciences Graduate Student Association of North Dakota State University hosted the 35th Annual Plant Science Graduate Student Symposium March 15-16, 2019. Forty graduate students who are studying plant sciences, plant pathology and animal sciences at NDSU, South Dakota State University, University of Manitoba, and University of Saskatchewan attended. The symposium theme, "Integrated Approaches in Agriculture", aimed to foster a valuable conversation among students, researchers and professionals about the importance of collaboration between fields and disciplines.

Matthew Rouse, research plant pathologist in the USDA-ARS Cereal Disease Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, gave the keynote address. He spoke about integrating breeding and pathology to combat wheat stem rust around the world.

Burton Johnson, professor in the NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, gave a presentation on the importance of sustainable agriculture and the use of cover cropping and inter-cropping to protect the soil and enhance land use efficiency.

Students presented their research in five categories, and a panel of judges comprised of industry professionals and faculty from the University of Minnesota and NDSU scored the presentations. First, second and third place awards in each category were presented during the closing banquet at the Plains Art Museum. NDSU Department of Plant Sciences assistant department head Harlene Hatterman-Valenti was on hand to address the group and present the awards.

The winners in each category were:

Plant Genetics, Breeding, and Bioinformatics

1st place:      Ahasanul Hoque, North Dakota State University, Plant Sciences
Genetic Diversity Analysis of a Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) Global Collection

2nd place:     Edgar Escobar, North Dakota State University, Plant Sciences
Magic Population: Improving Resistance to White Mold in Dry Beans

3rd place:     Seyedali Hosseinirad, North Dakota State University, Plant Sciences
Understanding the Relationship Between Yellow Pigment and Polyphenol Oxidases (PPO) Activity in Durum Wheat and Identifying Markers Associated with the Two Traits

Plant Pathology

1st place:      Bikash Poudel, North Dakota State University, Plant Pathology
Genome-Wide Association Study of Aggressiveness, DON Production and Spore Productivity in a Population of Fusarium graminearum Collected from North Dakota

2nd place:     Bryn Halley, North Dakota State University, Plant Pathology
Fungicide Application Timing to Manage Stripe Rust in Hard Red Spring Wheat in North Dakota

3rd place:     Sarah Budd, North Dakota State University, Plant Pathology
Determining in vitro Sensitivity of Small-Spored Alternaria spp. to SDHI Fungicides

Agronomy, Horticulture, and Weed Science

1st place:      Amy Mangin, University of Manitoba
Minimizing Lodging Risk of Spring Wheat Through Planting Density, Nitrogen Application Timing and Plant Growth Regulator Application

2nd place:     Sergio Cabello-Leiva, North Dakota State University, Plant Sciences
Cover Crops Decreases Initial Water Content, Sugarbeet Yield, and Residual N-NO3 in the Northern Great Plains

3rd place:     Jesse Puka-Beals, North Dakota State University, Plant Sciences
Combining Cover Crops, Strip Tillage, and Novel Mulches to Manage Weeds in Carrot

Cereal and Food Science

1st place:      Jane Snelling, North Dakota State University, Cereal Science
Vacuum Steam Pasteurization of Hard Red Spring Wheat

2nd place:     Ana Magallanes López, North Dakota State University, Cereal Science
Is Wet Milling an Alternative for Fusarium Infected Wheat?

3rd place:     Supun Fernando, North Dakota State University, Cereal Science
De-Hulling, Milling, and Flour Properties of Black Beans

Research Proposal

1st place:      Myra Van Die, University of Manitoba
Forage Resources and Farm Management for Pasture-Based Livestock Production

2nd place:     Hanaa Mansour, North Dakota State University, Animal Sciences
Influence of Melatonin Supplementation and Restricted Nutrition During Mid to Late Pregnancy on Placental Lactogen Expression in Sheep

3rd place:     Katherine Running, North Dakota State University, Genomics and Bioinformatics
Mapping Necrotrophic Fungal Susceptibility Genes in Wheat

Social and networking events for symposium attendees included a tour of the NDSU Agricultural Experiment Station Research Greenhouse Complex led by associate professor and potato breeder Susie Thompson, a tour of the Fargo Brewing Company, and a dinner social at Herd and Horns restaurant.

NDSU Plant Sciences Graduate Student Association members led the symposium planning committee. Felicity Merritt served as symposium chair, Nickolas Theisen was in charge of food and catering, and Katherine Running helped with event coordination, decorations, and set up. Johnson and associate professor Juan Osorno advise the student association.

“I was honored to serve as chair for this symposium,” said Merritt. “It was a great opportunity to develop relationships between students of different backgrounds, universities and countries. Although the weather did not initially cooperate with us, we were able to make adjustments, and hold a successful symposium. I believe NDSU put its best foot forward, and I am proud to have been a part of it.”

The Plant Science Graduate Student Symposium was initiated in an effort to bring together universities in the northern U.S. and Canada to provide graduate students in the plant sciences with an opportunity to present their research and network with fellow students, faculty and industry professionals.

View the symposium photo album

Source: Felicity Merritt, Plant Science Graduate Student Symposium Chair
Author: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

Editor: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,

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