Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Young scientists' work featured in Asian rice research meet

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA  - The recently concluded Asia Science Week at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) featured the work of 18 promising scientists in the early stages of their careers. The young rice scientists (YRS), 17 post-doctoral fellows and 1 PhD candidate, presented their research covering a range of topics including crop improvement, reducing post-harvest grain loss, environment and sustainability, genetics and genomics; innovations and novel approaches; and plant breeding. 

Rica Joy Flor (photo above), a PhD student at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, considered it a tremendous opportunity to have been selected to present her 3-year research before experienced scientists. In her presentation, How learning alliance or adaptive management approach affects innovation, Ms. Flor highlighted the situation in Cambodia. She observed how the introduction of combine harvesters and dryers in the country, the millers who changed standards and buying practices, the farmers who provided other farmers with informal training and coordination, and groups who shifted into manufacturing allowed knowledge and access to technology to spread.

“This has implications for other projects,” says Ms. Flor. “If we can tailor the monitoring so that researchers can be more aware of changes that are happening, then perhaps they can respond in a timely manner to support the processes started by these multi-stakeholder networks.”

In Why getting muddy matters: Lessons learned from getting young scientists out of the lab and into the field, Janelle Jung (photo, left) shared the insights she gained in a 3-week, hands-on comprehensive short course on rice cultivation and science with other young scientists, scholars, and extension agents. About a third of the participants had worked with rice only in a laboratory or social-economic context. This course was their first opportunity to experience rice cultivation—from land preparation to harvesting—and talk to farmers.  The exercise provided them with first-hand understanding of the complexities of rice production.

An evaluation of the first five years of the course showed that over 70% of respondents said they received intangible benefits, such as networking and a broader understanding of institutional or ethnic cultures and diverse agricultural fields. Jung encouraged young scientists and rice extension agents to get both early career field and interdisciplinary research experience to become more insightful and well-rounded professionals.

"Without a crop of vibrant, intelligent, dedicated, and caring young scientists, IRRI would not have a future," said Robert Zeigler, director general of IRRI. "Armed with knowledge gained at IRRI, the unique experience they get here, and valuable professional relationships they foster, our current batch of young scientists, I believe, will continue this legacy of contributing to a better world through rice science."


The YRS (in order of appearance) and their presentations were:
  • Post-harvest losses by rodents-Nyo Me Htwe
  • Induced mutations alter δ13C values in C4 plants-Govinda Rizal
  • Supporting women in rice farming: Where can we contribute?-Pieter Rutsaer 
  • Testing C4 gene promoters-Shanta Karki 
  •  How learning alliance or adaptive management approach affects innovation-Rica Joy Flor 
  • Increasing rice yield through pyramiding high value genes-Ramkumar Gandhimani
  • Targeted genome editing through CRISPR/Cas9 technology-Akshaya K Biswal
  •  Enhancing rice straw management to mitigate environmental footprint-Nguyen Van Hung
  • Why getting muddy matters: Lessons learned from getting young scientists out of the lab and into the field-Janelle Jung 
  •  SNP marker development for rice breeding-Maria S Dwiyanti
  • Population structure in 3000 rice genomes-Dmitri Chebotarev
  • Mutagenesis for discovery of genes affecting the leaf vein density in a model C4 monocot-Vivek Thakur
  • Understanding adaptation of rice across varying environments: Traits, trait interactions and QTLs-Shalabh Dixit
  • Night respiration and sink activity reveals high night temperature induced yield and quality loss in rice-Rajeev Nayan Bahuguna
  • Effect of land configuration  on water productivity and crop performance in rice-based cropping systems-Krishna Devkota
  • Biotech + breeding = healthier rice varieties-Jessica Rey
  • Setaria photosynthetic mutant screen using Plant Screen Phenotyping System-Jolly Chatterjee
  • C4 gene stacking-HsiangChun Lin
YRS fast facts through the years
  • 2015 - 18 young scientists presented a summary of their research at the IRRI-GRiSP Asia Science Week
  • 2014 -  29 young scientists were recognized during the 4th International Rice Congress in Bangkok
  • 2013 - Second gathering of IRRI young scientists at the GRiSP Asia Forum held on 13-14 October at IRRI Headquarters
  • 2012 –First IRRI Young Scientists Conference held on 8-9 November at IRRI Headquarters attended by 300 researchers from Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, India, Iran, and Tanzania.
  • 2011 – Young rice scientists joined the Global Rice Science Partnership to undertake research and training areas ranging from plant pathology to the social sciences. This was the first time training programs became available at the international level and were integrated across different global rice science institutes. 
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