From March 2nd to March 6th, CEPLAS Speaker Andreas Weber (HHU), Deputy Speaker Stanislav Kopriva (UoC) and doctoral researcher Svenja Augustin (HHU) travelled to New York City and Washington for a series of events organized by the University of Cologne New York Office. They took part in workshops, lectures, and a panel discussion to present the work of CEPLAS and to bring the PlantACT! initiative from Europe to North America in order to gain new ideas and transatlantic partners. Target group included scientists, students, representatives from industry, funding organizations, NGOs, diplomacy, press, and other stakeholders.
The PlantACT! initiative was born in June 2022 at the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) Conference and is currently being established as a think tank for plant scientists and other experts to develop sustainable solutions to tackle climate change. Andreas Weber and Stanislav Kopriva are among founding members of this initiative.
1. Experts’ Workshop - PlantACT! Plants for Climate Action - Growing a Resilient Society in New York City
During a two-day workshop, 25 experts in the fields of plant science, agriculture-, and climate research met at the German House to provide their expertise, discuss the PlantACT! initiative’s white paper, exchange ideas, and develop pathways towards feasible and sustainable solutions for ongoing climate change challenges. After welcoming remarks by Dr. Eva Bosbach, PlantACT! Speaker Prof. Heribert Hirt from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology held a presentation about the PlantACT! initiative and its goals, which was followed by a presentation by Prof. Stanislav Kopriva on the work of CEPLAS.
The recording of the introductory presentations held by Prof. Dr. Stanislav Kopriva and Prof. Dr. Heribert Hirt is available here.
2. Public Panel Discussion - PlantACT! Plants for Climate Action - Growing a Resilient Society in New York City
Together with its partners, CEPLAS and the University of Cologne New York Office hosted a public panel discussion PlantACT! Plants for Climate Action - Growing a Resilient Society at the German House auditorium. This panel discussion promoted the PlantACT! initiative which brings together international leading scientists with the aim of tackling climate change challenges from future global food production problems to the reduction of agriculture-based emissions, showcasing research in action. 140 attendees joined this event.
In one of the panels Stanislav Kopriva and Svenja Augustin took part in a discussion about potential solutions by plant scientists from both sides of the Atlantic for a transition to sustainable agriculture and land use and how plants, soil and microbes can serve as actors for climate mitigation.
The recording of the public Panel discussion is available here.
3. AAAS Conference in Washington D.C.
As part of their USA visit, Andreas Weber, Stanislav Kopriva and Svenja Augustin joined the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Washington D.C. They participated in a “Research in Germany” workshop and at an exhibition booth hosted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) North America. In addition to CEPLAS, representatives of the University of Cologne Cluster of Excellence on Aging Research CECAD and 9 other excellence clusters participated at the conference.
4. German Clusters of Excellence Workshop at the German Research Foundation (DFG) Office in Washington D.C.
The German Research Foundation (DFG) North America office hosted a German Clusters of Excellence workshop at their offices with the participation of several Program directors of NSF and NIH, including Acting Division Director of NSF Molecular and Cellular Biosciences Karen C. Cone. Seven Excellence clusters were present, with Andreas Weber and Stanislav Kopriva presenting CEPLAS. The aim of the workshop was to discuss potential future collaboration and funding opportunities.
5. Plant Science Workshop at the German Research Foundation (DFG) Office in Washington D.C.
As a dedicated area-focused break-out session of the Clusters of Excellence Workshop, the DFG North America and the University of Cologne New York Office co-organized a Plant Science Workshop. During the workshop, Andreas Weber and Stanislav Kopriva gave more details about CEPLAS and Heribert Hirt introduced PlantACT!. Opportunities for funding support were discussed and as a result, proposal to support communication of PlantACT! activities in the US for the next 5 years has been submitted to NSF.
6. Plant Science and Agriculture Research for Global Climate Mitigation: New Perspectives from Germany at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Washington D.C.
Upon invitation by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, the University of Cologne New York Office co-organized the event Plant Science and Agriculture Research for Global Climate Mitigation: New Perspectives from Germany at the Embassy. This event featured a lecture, moderated discussion, and networking. The lecture included presentations by Andreas Weber and Stanislav Kopriva on Plant Sciences and Agriculture Research in Germany and CEPLAS and by Heribert Hirt on PlantACT! Plants for Climate Action. Svenja Augustin commented with Perspectives of a Young Plant Scientist – Climate Change Challenges in the Future.
Text by Eva Bosbach and Petra Bracht