Interview Maria von Korff Schmising

Maria von Korff Schmising was elected as the new CEPLAS speaker. In an interview, she speaks about her motivation to take on the new role within CEPLAS and what major challenges she faces.


Question 1: What motivated you to take on the role of the CEPLAS speaker?

I am grateful for the research environment and opportunities CEPLAS has offered me. CEPLAS has allowed me to learn and develop my scientific career and above all, to pursue scientific questions and projects that really interest me. As the speaker of CEPLAS I would like to give back and to ensure that CEPLAS keeps developing and thriving as a research community. It is a great responsibility, a challenge and a privilege to be able to shape the future of CEPLAS.

Question 2: What major challenges do you associate with your new role? And what challenges does CEPLAS face?

Together, we face the major challenge of developing an innovative, convincing and coherent CEPLAS 3 project. At the same time, we need to promote plant research in Germany and improve its standing in society and politics.

Question 3: Why is it important to establish collaborations with other research institutions, such as IPK? Are there any plans for further collaborations?

The cooperation with IPK is a unique opportunity to work together with an excellent research institute and excellent scientists. The IPK, with its genebank, the digital resource centre, the infrastructure for automated phenotyping and expertise in crop research, opens up new research perspectives for CEPLAS 3. I am very much looking forward to working with the IPK.

Question 4: What are your personal hopes and expectations regarding the impact CEPLAS will have on society?

I expect CEPLAS to create new scientific knowledge and breakthroughs as a basis for solving some of the most pressing challenges currently facing our society. We need a transformation of our agricultural system to save resources, protect biodiversity and ensure sufficient food production under conditions of climate change. Further, I hope that CEPLAS can promote the standing of plants and plant research in society and politics.

Question 5: What are you most looking forward to in your new role, and what do you not enjoy as much?

Above all, I look forward to developing an exciting CEPLAS 3 research program with my colleagues. I cannot think of anything specific I would not enjoy, but I am sure to encounter difficulties along the road. Sometimes it is good not to know them all beforehand.

Question 6: CEPLAS is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Where do you see CEPLAS in 10 years?

I see CEPLAS as a transregional research centre that uses creative, interdisciplinary research approaches to decipher the effects of inter and intraspecific genetic variation on plant performance in different environments. In ten years, we might be able to build our ideal plant targeted to specific environments and agricultural production systems. This knowledge and tools are key to developing new concepts and approaches in agriculture and breeding climate-adapted and resource-efficient crops.