If you have read our post on “Career Opportunities for Plant Scientists,” you may have clicked on the link for Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science: A Vision for 2015 – 2025. If you haven’t yet taken the time to read through this document, I highly recommend it. What you may not know is the story behind how this document came about and what is being done to act on the key challenges outlined it in.
The Back Story
The Decadal Vision was created because of a desire to have a “consensus” among the plant science community regarding the major challenges that need to be addressed over the next decade. Each of us as individuals can be ignored, but, if the plant science community was to “speak with one voice,” the world would listen. With funding and support from HHMI, ASPB, USDA, NSF and DOE, a group of plant scientists were brought together and the Decadal Vision was born.
From Vision to Network
One of the workshops at the 2016 Plant Biology meeting was “Re-imagining Postgraduate Training for the Plant Sciences.” David Stern, current president of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI), recounted that after helping write the decadal vision, they thought they could walk away having done the job asked of them. Instead, they kept getting asked about the 5th and final chapter of the vision, which outlines the need for a different approach to graduate training that incorporates cross-training for a diverse array of career options. Everyone thought this need was of high importance, and wanted to know what was being done to address this challenge. As a result, David and Crispin Taylor, Executive Director of ASPB, put together a proposal subsequently funded by NSF, resulting in the creation of the Plant Science Research Network (PSRN). As quoted in the article, “Plant Science Research Network Launches” by Natalie Henkhaus in 2015, David Stern states: “The PSRN is an ambitious effort to make it easy for plant scientists to acquire and deploy a range of experimental and soft skills. The diversity of plant science represented in the RCN members is a tremendous strength, but also a challenge to developing a cohesive vision for research and training. Our hope is to accelerate the building of knowledge and careers that will be needed to meet our society’s challenges.”
David, Crispin and team are gathering input from the plant science community regarding our views on the needs and potential solutions for making a real, positive change in graduate student and post doc training. The workshop at this year’s meeting was just one such effort. This input will be compiled and consolidated into a comprehensive strategy to be presented at a workshop in DC this October. The goal of this workshop is to provide recommendations regarding specific goals and a timeline towards making “Re-imagined Graduate Training” a reality.
Want to be a part of the conversation? Use the comment box to submit your thoughts.
UPDATE: After several workshops involving scientists of diverse backgrounds and at various stages in their careers, the 2018 PSRN report, Reinventing Postgraduate Training in the Plant Sciences, defines T-training through “Modularity, Customization and Distributed Mentorship.”