(01/17/24) BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU College of Agriculture graduate students are usually working diligently in labs, fields and classrooms. A symposium held in December allowed them to gather with other graduate students from across the southeast, showcase their research and meet with potential employers.
The symposium, Beyond the Bayou: Advancing Plant Science in a Diverse and Changing Agricultural Region, was held on the LSU campus in partnership with Corteva Agriscience and looked at research addressing challenges posed by climate, pests and the landscape of the southeastern United States.
Brayden Blanchard, a graduate student in the LSU AgCenter School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences who helped plan the symposium, said it was organized by graduate students for graduate students.
“It was an opportunity for industry to come in and meet graduate students who are incredibly specialized in their research areas,” Blanchard said.
The meeting was affiliated with the Corteva Symposia Series and supported by Corteva Agriscience Series and other industry partners and commodity groups. Discussions included artificial intelligence in agriculture, assessing new technologies and applying technological innovations into crop improvement.
Rajat Pruthi is also a graduate student in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences studying plant breeding and genetics. He said the symposium provided a unique platform for networking and exchanging ideas with professionals and peers in his field.
“The opportunity to engage in discussions, attend insightful sessions and connect with seasoned experts greatly enriched my understanding of my research area,” Pruthi said. “The connections I made during the symposium have proven to be instrumental in my academic and professional journey.”
The symposium was also supported by professional societies. Kenneth Gravois, LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist, works with the Louisiana Division of the American Society of Sugar Cane Technologists.
“As a society, our mission is to support and encourage students, especially graduate students. This was a student-led effort with speakers who were well established in their careers and represented a diverse group of professionals,” Gravois said. “The speakers were candid about struggles they faced and how they adapted, making it an excellent opportunity for the students.”
More than 200 students and faculty members attended the conference. Blanchard said the plan is to hold another symposium later this year.
“The event was a great opportunity for graduate students to showcase the impactful research that they are currently engaged in, gain insight into the careers and research interests of very prestigious titans in the industry, and network to foster collaborative relationships within the greater crop science community,” Blanchard said.
Graduate students who helped organize and participated in the Beyond the Bayou: Advancing Plant Science in a Diverse and Changing Agricultural Region symposium were Lisa Arce, John Ontoy, Stephanie Ramos, Nelomie Galagedara, Tyler Musgrove, Flavia Furlan, Maria Guadalupe Montiel, Brayden Blanchard, Kajal Gupta, Rajat Pruthi, David Galo and Ernesto da Silva. Photo provided by Brayden Blanchard