Green thumbs to unite at Brock this weekend

This year’s Eastern Regional Meeting for the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists (CSPB) is being hosted at Brock University Friday, Nov. 22 to Saturday, Nov. 23.

CSPB was founded in 1958, originally known as the Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists, and now has more than 400 members, composing the largest Canadian organization of plant scientists.

Biological Sciences Professor Vincenzo De Luca from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science is a member and organizing committee chair for this year’s CSPB meeting. Since its inception, CSPB has entertained annual nationwide and international conferences, and has become highly focused on training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the art of timely and clear presentation and description of research results.

Two young emerging scientists, Isabel Desgagné-Penix from the Université du Québec à Trois Rivières, and David Smith from Western University, will give symposium talks on their research and on new developments in the field.

Desgagné-Penix will present “Cracking the code of Amaryllidaceae alkaloid biosynthesis.” Her research uses new technologies to highlight the potential for discovery of genes involved in Alzheimer’s disease, and she has earned a reputation for seeking out new methods of synthesizing alkaloids that may better treat the disease.

Smith will present “Stranger things: the organelle genome edition.” His plenary brings to light the strange functions of genomes that break the rules.

“I have devoted my career as a researcher to exploring organelle genomes, many of which seem to show no bounds in their propensity for peculiar and noncanonical characteristics,” said Smith.

The conference will also see oral and poster competitions for graduate students. While the best oral/poster presentations are highly competitive, they take place in a friendly and cordial atmosphere to discuss all aspects of plant biology.

Brock has traditionally participated in holding Eastern Regional Meetings of the CSPB. Since Professor De Luca’s arrival in the Department of Biological Sciences in 2001, the University has hosted the meeting in 2003, 2010 and now 2019. This year participants are coming come from several Universities (Carleton, Guelph, McMaster, Queens, Wilfred Laurier, Waterloo, Western and Toronto in addition to Brock), as well as various government research institutes.

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