Efforts to recruit and educate the next generation of plant scientists were top of mind and the agenda at the recent Triticeae Coordinated Agricultural Project (T-CAP) annual meeting.
About 120 stakeholders attended the sessions last weekend in San Diego, Calif., including most of the 56 scientists who participate in the wheat and barley research program.
While the bulk of the meeting’s time was spent on technical research reports, education and collaboration efforts were also key topics.
One of the objectives of the T-CAP project, which is funded by a $25 million grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), is to train undergraduate and graduate students at participating universities and minority-serving institutions in essential scientific skills.
There is increasing recognition among project leaders that communication and collaboration are also vital skills for researchers that could be incorporated into future training. A pool of scientists is needed who can explain to the general public, the media and lawmakers the impact plant sciences have on the day-to-day lives of every person who eats food.
T-CAP scientists are also undertaking a number of efforts to help younger students learn about and become interested in plant science. Resources are being developed for undergraduate and advanced high school students, like a recruitment film showing what T-CAP scientists do and why their work matters.
In an age of increased collaboration and coordination with other researchers at home and abroad, the development of databases was also a focus of the meeting conversation. New technologies like DNA markers dramatically increase the volume of information available to scientists, which must be channeled into a useable, and searchable, form. The need for adequate data management tools is seen as an international priority and is also a key focus of the international wheat research initiative that was created by the G20. In the case of the T-CAP project, scientists are already seeing the need for more server space to manage the explosion of data that has been developed.
NAWG is a strong supporter of the T-CAP project, which is one of the premier public wheat research collaborations funded by USDA. NAWG Chief Executive Officer Dana Peterson attended the T-CAP meeting on behalf of the Association and wheat producers.
She later attended the annual meeting of the Wheat Foods Council, which is a nutrition education organization funded by wheat growers and users.
That meeting focused on the Wheat Foods’ outreach plans for the coming year, including a presence at various events in the nutrition and dietician community; expansion of the WFC Network, Wheat Foods’ revitalized website; publication of a new e-magazine; and coordination of a wheat tour for nutrition bloggers, chefs and other influencers.
More about the T-CAP project is at http://wheat.pw.usda.gov/triticeaecap/.
More from Wheat Foods Council is at http://www.wheatfoods.org/.