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the foundation
of civilization

Plant breeding:
the foundation
of agriculture

Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee

Subcommittee - Education and Training of Plant Breeders

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This is the report from the subcommittee on a Education and Training of Plant Breeders. It met as part of the Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee in Madison, Wisconsin on Aug 3-5, 2009.

This report was prepared by: Donn Cummings, Rita Mumm and Mitch Tuinstra

  • Officers:
    • Rita Mumm, Past chair ( – also secretary of PBCC for 2010
    • Mitch Tuinstra, Chair (
    • Donn Cummings, Vice chair (
    • Jamie Sherman, Secretary (
  • White paper and One-pager:
    • White paper is completed (authors: H. Thomas Stalker and David Knauft)
    • 1-pager is completed (authors: M.R. Tuinstra, D.P. Cummings, and R.H. Mumm)
    • Action items:
      • Need to publish white paper
  • Session 1 – Old Business
    • Reorganization of Subcommittee:
      • The Education Subcommittee decided to continue without restructuring, keeping and advancing current leadership as previously planned
      • Fred Bliss moved and Neil Anderson seconded the nomination of Jamie Sherman for 2010 secretary
      • Jamie Sherman was elected
    • Survey Results:
      • Rita Mumm presented results from a survey conducted in 2008 by the Education Subcommittee
      • Discussion led to conclusion that the 56% response rate was good, but significant institutions were not represented, and survey was deemed not complete enough to be published
      • Action items: Need further action on survey validity and follow-up in 2010 was encouraged
        • Response from key universities that didn’t submit a completed survey e.g. University of California, Cornell, NDSU, SDSU
        • Consider 2nd phase follow-up with all responders to learn more on categories of students e.g. molecular, computational, quantitative, seed science/foundation
    • Alan Van Deynze, UC Davis, indicated need for improved communications.  Out of the discussion came the idea that a communications, liaison, and outreach committee might be warranted. (Alan was eventually elected chair of this newly formed committee in the joint session)
  • Session 2 – New Business
    • Update on Delphi Study on Plant Breeding Curriculum Development (UC Davis)
      • Fred Bliss described a proposed Delphi Study at UC Davis for which additional funding support is currently being welcomed (contact Fred, if interested in donating)
      • The Delphi study is an iterative consensus building survey process involving a diverse population of expert participants (at least 60 per group) from:
      • Developed Countries – Public Sector
      • Developed Countries – Private Sector
      • Developing Countries – Public and Private
      • Recently graduated, early career plant breeders
      • Additional volunteers to participate in the Delphi study are being solicited for consideration
      • Goals for the study include:
        • Updating and improving curriculum of plant breeding education
        • Help to better prepare graduate students for careers
        • Develop new and interactive programs
    • Networking among graduate students
      • Group discussion ensued on how we might foster increased networking among plant breeding graduate students using social networking tools like Facebook and Ning. This will likely fall to the new communications committee to pursue, but the education committee may add inputs.
  • Session 3 – Looking Ahead
    • “Ask” lists
      • Each subcommittee to assemble a needs list; also indicate what will be delivered/accomplished by satisfying the stated needs. In particular, state how delivery will affect the following areas that Audrey Troutman highlighted as key to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture
      • US competitiveness
      • Science and technology
      • Entrepreneurship
      • Health and well-being
      • Needs of the private sector
      • Quality of life in rural America
      • Filling professional gaps
    • Graduate student value in PBCC meetings
      • Graduate student attendance and participation in PBCC is highly valued and encouraged
      • Suggestions were solicited on how to add value to the meetings for attending graduate students
        • Something to connect job seekers to employers
        • Mentorship pairing of students with scientists at meetings
        • Continue to encourage scientific posters
        • Graduate student input needed here


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Department of Horticultural ScienceBox 7609North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NC 27695-7609(919) 515-7416

Page citation: Wehner, T.C. Global Plant Breeding, 30 March 2005;
design by C.T. Glenn; send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 22 October, 2009