Our Invited Speakers

Fred Brouns
Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Edward Buckler
Cornell University, USA

Edward S. Buckler is a USDA-ARS Research Geneticist located at Cornell University. He is recognized as a leader in the integration of quantitative and statistical genetics with genomic approaches, applying these tools to maize and other crops. This work has provided insights into how complex traits are controlled, and he has identified genetic variation useful for crop improvement. Dr. Buckler’s group has also helped lead in the development of the largest public genetic mapping resources for any species. Their research has provided insights into the genetic diversity of species, the genetic architecture of complex traits, hybrid vigor, and the genes controlling numerous traits related to plant flowering, development, starch, and pro-Vitamin A. His research now focuses on using plant genetics in combination with researchers across the agricultural system to tackle its impact on climate change. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and has numerous leadership positions within the crop genetics community. He is the recipient of the inaugural NAS Food and Agriculture Award.

Ismahane Elouafi
CGIAR, France

Julia Engelhorn
Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany

Fabio Fiorani
Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany

Fabio Fiorani received the B.S. degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Milan, Italy, and the Ph.D. degree in plant ecophysiology from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. He held post-doctoral positions at Duke University, NC, USA, and at the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology, Plant Systems Biology, Ghent, Belgium, from 2001 to 2007. From 2007 to 2010, he was a Senior Scientist with Crop Design, BASF Plant Science in Ghent, Belgium. Since 2010, He led a multi-disciplinary group at the Institute of Plant Sciences (Jülich Plant Phenotyping Center – JPPC), Forschungszentrum Jülich, focusing on development and application of screening methods for quantifying plant growth dynamics nondestructively. He currently continues research on plant acclimation to environmental stresses as a senior scientist at FZJ-IBG-2 in the JPPC research group.

Stefania Giacomello
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Stefania Giacomello is Associate Professor in Spatial Biology at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Group Leader at SciLifeLab (Stockholm, Sweden). Her research group develops new approaches for different spatially resolved modalities to study how cell localization influences biological processes across kingdoms. Dr. Giacomello developed a multidisciplinary set of skills by studying Biotechnology at the University of Udine (Italy) and working in Plant Genomics at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB, Cambridge, UK) before moving back to conduct her Ph.D in Plant Genomics. In 2013, she started a postdoc at SciLifeLab where she contributed to the development of Spatial Transcriptomics, a technology that allows to generate 2D gene expression maps of tissue sections, and extended it to plants. Between 2016 and 2018 she was a Senior Bioinformatician at the National Bioinformatics Infrastructure of Sweden and specialized in the analysis of single-cell and spatial transcriptomics data before starting her research group in 2019.
Among the projects of her lab, there are the development of spatial methods to study spatial host-pathogen interactions in plants and animal tissues, the spatiotemporal study of the reproductive development in Norway spruce cones and the spatial analysis of the impact of spaceflight on mouse brain.

Dirk Inzé
Ghent University, Belgium

Dirk Inzé received his PhD at Ghent in 1984. In 1990, he was appointed Research Director of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), where he initiated highly successful research programs on the plant cell cycle and growth control. In 1995, he became Professor at Ghent University and he was the scientific founder of the biotechnology company CropDesign, which was established in 1998 and acquired in 2006 by BASF Plant Science. In 2002, Dirk was appointed Director of the Center for Plant Systems Biology of the VIB. Under his directorship, the Center – currently employing approximately 300 individuals – became one of the world leading centers for advanced plant sciences. In 2017, Dirk was awarded with the prestigious World Agriculture Prize. In 2019 he was elected to the rank of AAAS Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and in 2020 he was elected to be a member of Academia Europaea. In 2021, Dirk was appointed member of the Science Council of the ERC. He is the chairperson of EU-SAGE, a consortium of 158 European plant research institutes advocating for the use of Gene editing for a sustainable agriculture (www.eu-sage.com). His current, ERC funded, research deals with integrating high order, multiplex gene editing with breeding programs of crops.

Keisuke Nagai
Nagoya University, Japan

Agnès Ricroch
Paris Saclay University, France

Agnès Ricroch holds a PhD in plant science and obtained an HDR (ability to conduct researches) from Paris-Saclay University (Orsay, France) in genetic resources and plant breeding. She was a visiting researcher at Texas Tech University and Duke University (USA) and at the John Innes Institute (UK). She is a senior lecturer in evolutionary genetics and plant breeding at AgroParisTech (Palaiseau, France) and Adjunct Professor at Pennsylvania State University, College of Agricultural Sciences (USA), she teaches biotechnology and bioethics since 2016. She is a researcher in IDEST laboratory at Paris-Saclay University, Faculty Jean-Monnet, Sceaux (France), where her research focuses on benefits-risk assessment and regulation of green biotechnology (GMO, New Genomic Techniques).
Member elected in 2015 of the Academy of Agriculture of France, she is the head of the Life Sciences section since 2016. She was invited as keynote speaker at OECD and at the European Commission on applications of genome editing in agriculture. She gives numerous interviews to national and international newspapers, radio and television. She was awarded the Limagrain Foundation Prize of the Academy of Agriculture of France. She is a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France.

Sebastian Schornack
Cambridge University, UK

Sebastian Schornack is a Senior Group Leader at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge University (SLCU). He earned his PhD degree in 2006 in Plant Biology at the Martin-Luther University Halle, working on disease resistance genes and co-discovered the TAL effector DNA binding code. Sebastian’s postdoctoral research focused on Phytophthora effector proteins at The Sainsbury Laboratory Norwich. At Cambridge he studies molecular mechanisms underlying the colonisation of plants by Phytophthora pathogens and symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi. His team has adopted and become experts in diverse plant systems from bryophytes to angiosperms. This enables them to pursue comparative and evolutionary approaches. Their work has provided insights into plant processes supporting and limiting plant-microbe interactions, providing inroads for crop protection and crop improvement.