Boy Scout Plant Sciences Badge Day

Last Saturday, Aug. 20, Kevin Cope, a graduate student in Jean-Michel Ané’s lab, organized the second annual Plant Science Merit Badge Workshop for Boy Scouts. The workshop was held in conjunction with the Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council (PSGSC) with help from PSGSC president Chris D’Angelo, a graduate student in Irwin Goldman’s lab. Boy Scouts from across Wisconsin and parts of Illinois attended, and 48 scouts earned the badge. More than 15 graduate student volunteers from several different departments and programs helped with the workshop.

Scouts attending the workshop took part in lectures, hands-on experiments, and tours of the D.C. Smith Greenhouse and the Allen Centennial Gardens. Said one parent who attended the workshop, “My son commented on how much they learned and came home in very good spirits after a long day. We’ve been to many different merit badge workshops…[This] was one of the best run and highest-quality workshops we’ve seen.”

This is the second time Kevin, who serves as vice president of PSGSC, has organized this workshop with the student council. They plan to continue offering this merit badge workshop in the future so that young men interested in plant science can learn more and enjoy the facilities that UW–Madison has to offer. They are also interested in expanding the workshop to involve young women and welcome ideas about how to do that. Contact Kevin at with any questions or suggestions.



Marian Lund selected for 2016 United Soybean Board Fellowship

PhD candidate Marian Lund has been selected for a 2016 United Soybean Board fellowship.

Marian works on a bacterial biological control agent for soybean cyst nematode called Pasteuria nishizawae, an obligate parasite on SCN. Marian is designing a molecular detection method to monitor the movement and overall ecology of the bacterium in the soil over the growing season. The ultimate goal of this project is to assess this method of SCN control and determine which management practices best foster P. nishizawae in the soil.

The United Soybean Board (USB) Fellowship promotes graduate education in the area of Plant Sciences, emphasizing the development of improved soybean varieties, understanding soybean genetics, and developing improved ways to grow and use soybeans. Funds for the fellowship are made available by gifts from the United Soybean Board to the American Society of Agronomy. Two fellowships will be awarded, providing a $25,000 annual stipend to each student for up to four years provided that satisfactory progress occurs toward degree completion. The recipients also receive a membership to the American Society of Agronomy and a subscription to the ACSESS Digital Library for the duration of the fellowship.

Dan Undersander to Receive Three Crop Society Awards

Congratulations to Agronomy faculty member Dan Undersander, who has been selected to receive three awards at the ASA/CSSA Annual meeting in November: the ASA Agronomic Extension Education Award, ASA Agronomic Service Award, and CSSA Crop Science Extension Award.

The Agronomic Extension Education Award recognizes educational contributions of extension agronomists, industrial agronomists, or others whose primary contributions are in teaching or education outside the university classroom.

The Agronomic Service Award recognizes development of agronomic service programs, practices, and products for acceptance by the public. The focus will be on agronomic service with associated educational, public relations, and administrative contributions of industrial agronomists, governmental, industrial, or university administrators and others.

The Crop Science Extension Award is presented in recognition of excellence in extension teaching activities in the area of crop science.

The awards come with recognition at a ceremony at the Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ and award funds.

Adam Gaspar recipient of 2016 Mott Scholarship

UW Agronomy PhD candidiate Adam Gaspar has been awarded the 2016 Gerald O. Mott Scholarship for Meritorious Graduate Students in Crop Science.

The Gerald O. Mott Scholarship is provided to a meritorious graduate student in crop science. The scholarship is supported by gifts from the Gerald O. Mott family to the Agronomic Science Foundation and administered by the Crop Science Society of America.

Adam will be presented with the award at the annual CSSA meeting in November.

PSGSC Journal Club for 2/15

Hello Plant Scientists!

Computational thinking is a widely applicable analytical skill with potential to improve the way we approach scientific inquiries. Jeannette Wing (2006, 2008) presents a case for actively developing this ability, which combines abstract thought processes from mathematics, engineering, and the sciences. Please join us Monday, Feb. 15 at noon in Moore 473, where Schuyler Smith will lead a discussion on the what, how and why of computational thinking.

The forecast is intellectually stimulating with a 100% chance of coffee and cookies.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Wing 2008

Wing 2006

PSGSC Journal Club for 2/1

Welcome back! The temperatures may have dropped, but Journal Club is coming in hot!

Do you believe in MAGIC? Please joinus to discuss the use of Multi-parent Advanced Generation Inter-cross populations in fine mapping, novel QTL identification, and applied breeding. In their 2013 paper, Bandillo et al. describe the development and use of MAGIC populations in rice. These populations offer plant scientists a valuable new tool with advantages over traditional QTL mapping and GWAS, as well as a convenient excuse to justify your results with “magic.” Hope to see you there!

Bandillo et al. 2013

Study Suggests Perennial Crop Yields Can Compete with Corn Stover

A six-year Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) study on the viability of different bioenergy feedstocks recently demonstrated that perennial cropping systems such as switchgrass, giant miscanthus, poplar, native grasses, and prairie can yield as much biomass as corn stover.

The study is significant for beginning to address one of the biofuel industry’s biggest questions: can environmentally beneficial crops produce enough biomass to make their conversion to ethanol efficient and economical?

(Continues at:

2016 WI Agronomy Update Meetings

MADISON, Wis. — The Department of Agronomy will offer Crop Production and Management Meetings at eight locations during 2016. Joe Lauer, Dan Undersander and Shawn Conley will present the latest information on hybrid/variety performance, an analysis and discussion of last year’s growing season, and updated recommendations for field crop production.

The registration fee includes a meal and materials. Please pre-register with the Host Agent. A “walk-in” (Late) fee will be charged to those who have not preregistered. Additional information packets will be available for $18.00 each. Certified Crop Advisor CEU credits have been requested (3.0 hours in Crop Management). Below is a list of topics, meeting sites, dates and times. Please join us at meeting in your area.

Packet Materials

2015 Wisconsin Hybrid Corn Performance Trials – Grain and Silage (A3653)

2015 Wisconsin Soybean Variety Test Results (A3654)

2015 Perennial Forage Variety Update for Wisconsin (A1525)

Winter wheat varieties for grain in Wisconsin – 2015 (A3868)

Wisconsin Crop Improvement Association updates

Extension publications

Agronomy Advice articles

Discussion Topics



• Reduced lignin alfalfa management

• New race of anthracnose

• Coated grass seed


• A retrospective of WI corn production decisions

• RIB hybrid performance

• Do we need to do tillage for corn production in WI?

Soybeans and Small Grains

• Prioritizing Soybean Inputs to Maximize Grower Profitability in 2016

• Cover Crop or Fall Forage… Spring Grains Options Planted After Winter Wheat


(Originally from Morning Ag Clips, here)

Ag News for 12/15

USDA announces funding available for Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Programs – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack  announces the availability of $17.6 million in funding to support research and outreach activities that will help growers, producers, and processors find innovative ways to improve organic agriculture.

New Faculty Profile: Valentin Picasso

Cover crop research opportunity: Open call for presentation for annual Production Agriculture Symposium entitled “Cover Crops: Economic and Environmental Management” (March 22-26, St. Paul).

New FISC seminar covers organic grain production and marketing.

2016 Wisconsin Crop Management Conference – Jan 12-14, 2016.

Plant Sciences Journal Club for December 14

Greetings Plant Scientists!

Please join us next Monday at noon in Moore 473 as we will talk about the impact of climate change on U.S. soybean production.

Increases in crop yields over time are often attributed to genetic and management advances, but the impact of climate change on yield gain is often confounded with these advances or simply overlooked.  Efforts led by the Conley lab here at the UW examined how temperature and precipitation changes have solely influenced soybean yield in the U.S. over the past 20 years.  The work by Mourtzinis et al. (2015) shows that climate change has benefited growers in some states while negatively impacting others.

David Marburger will lead this discussion describing the positive and negative impacts of climate change on soybean production throughout the U.S. and share ways soybean growers can adapt their management strategies in order to mitigate the negative impacts.

Mourtzinis et al. 2015

We hope to see you next week!


Plant Sciences Journal Club for 12/7

Greetings Plant Scientists!

Please join us next Monday at noon in Moore 473 to talk about the origins of modern tomato.

We all know modern crops went through a process of domestication, which is considered the first stage in plant breeding. Even though tomato is one of the most studied vegetables worldwide and is considered a high value crop, little is known about how human selection altered its genome to make it 100 bigger than its wild ancestor! Lin et al. (2014) used genome sequences to provide evidence for the changes in the tomato genome due to domestication and improvement.

Carlos Arbizu will lead the discussion around this impressive study which provided key insights into the (beneficial as well detrimental) effects of human selection on the world most-valued vegetable.

Lin et al. 2014

We hope to see you next week!