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Three Plant Sciences Faculty Receive FORWARD Travel Grants

Three NDSU Plant Sciences faculty were able to engage in professional development with mentors outside of NDSU through support from NDSU FORWARD Travel Grants.

Three Department of Plant Sciences faculty received travel grants from the Focus on Resources for Women’s Advancement Recruitment/Retention and Development (FORWARD) project at North Dakota State University during 2013-2014. A total of 17 faculty at NDSU received the awards.

The three 2013-2014 recipients from  the Department of Plant Sciences are the Bert D’Appolonia Cereal Science and Technology of Wheat Endowed Associate Professor on Hard Red Spring Wheat End Quality, Senay Simsek;  Potato Breeder and Associate Professor, Susie Thompson; and Associate Professor of Ornamental Plant Breeding and Genetics, Qi Zhang. Each used the awards to travel to conferences and workshops and to work with mentoring experts.

FORWARD was established at NDSU in 2008 and focuses on five target areas. These are:

  • Improve campus climate by “narrowing the gap between men’s and women’s perceptions of campus climate”.
  • Enhance recruitment efforts to include women, women of color and women with disabilities.
  • Increase retention and promotion of women faculty from the time they are hired through promotion and tenure processes.
  • Increase opportunities for women in academic leadership positions.

These initiatives are supported by multiple internal programs including workshops, mentoring research and leadership training grants and evaluation of campus climate changes.

FORWARD Mentor Travel Grants are intended to give recipients opportunities to meet with mentors outside the NDSU community, in order to advance the goals of FORWARD.

Simsek traveled to Gebze, Turkey, June 15-25 to work with Dr. Yildiz Uludag who is a Senior Researcher at the Informatics and Information Security Center-Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, (BILGEM-TUBITAK) and specializes in biosensor research.

Uludag and Simsek have been collaborating for several years on a project to utilize biosensors to detect mycotoxins in grains. Simsek has received four previous FORWARD travel grants, which she used to carry out her work with Uludag.

Thompson used the travel grant to meet with Dr. David Douches of Michigan State University (MSU) and to participate in the Potato Tetraploid Mapping and SNP Analysis Training Workshop sponsored by the Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project (SolCAP).  The workshop was held April 7-11 to train potato researchers how to use genotyping techniques and genomic mapping software to identify important traits in potato breeding populations.

Dr. Douches is the Primary Investigator for the SolCAP and leads the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program at MSU.

Zhang traveled to the American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHS) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL, July 28-31, where she presented two posters and met with two horticulture and teaching experts from the University of Florida, Dr. Zhanao Deng and Dr. Kimberly Moore.

Dr. Moore, Professor of Environmental Horticulture, is an experienced researcher in the area of nutrient uptake and regulation and has received numerous teaching awards and grants. Zhang discussed research and teaching techniques with Dr. Moore.

Dr. Deng, Associate Professor of Ornamental Plant Breeding and Genetics, is an expert in molecular breeding of horticultural crops and Zhang  learned molecular genetics research skills, which she will use for collaborative research projects with Dr. Deng.

For information about the FORWARD program, see

Author: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,
Editor: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

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