Seed World

NAPB’s 10th Annual Meeting to be its “Most Accessible” Ever

The 2020 annual meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders is going virtual. It is the 10th annual meeting of the NAPB and was supposed to have physically taken place in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“We would have loved to have people come to Lincoln for this event, but obviously going virtual would be best for all involved,” says Stephen Baenziger, wheat breeder and hosting committee chair.

The virtual event will take place Aug. 16-20 with the talks given mainly in mid-morning to mid-afternoon. This change will allow for presentations to be more time zone friendly for synchronous viewing by North and South American attendees.

“The virtual meeting will include all of the ‘normal’ aspects of our annual meeting like talks, but will also include virtual posters, chat rooms, exhibit halls, and networking rooms,” Baenziger adds.

Given the uncertainties of instructional formats for the fall semester, all talks will be recorded to be accessed on-demand by registered participants during the meeting and after the meeting, most likely for up to one year.

Registration fees are being reduced to ensure that every participant gets the maximum value for their money. NAPB member graduate students can register for $50 and non-member graduate students can register for $100.

For NAPB members the registration fee is $250. For non-members, the fee is $350.

The event will begin Aug. 16 with a grad student workshop and soft skills workshop. Talks will start the next day with a session on innovation in plant breeding education, featuring Rich Horsely of North Dakota State University and Brandon Wardyn, corn breeder and zone lead for Corteva Agriscience. It will be followed by a series of speakers on the topic of gene editing opportunities within the current global regulatory landscape, which includes Getu Beyene Duguma of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center speaking on the topic of using gene editing to enhance the speed of crop improvement in developing countries.

The following day will include a session on horticulture, tree and turf breeding (featuring Ismail Dweikat of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln on the topic of hemp breeding), followed by an afternoon session on breeding for quality traits, which includes a talk on the 2020 vision for improved nutritional quality of wheat given by Mary Guttieri, research geneticist for the USDA-ARS Hard Winter Wheat Genetics Research Unit in Kansas.

The July 19 morning sessions include talks on big data, phenotyping & genomic selection, plus innovations from animal science breeding. In the afternoon, sessions on plant root and leaf microbiomes abiotic/biotic stress will be offered (including a talk on recent changes at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture given by NIFA Deputy Director Parag Chitnis).

The final day will consist of talks in regard to corn breeding and its history. The event will close with a talk on corn breeding and the path to 600 bu/a given by 2019 NAPB award winner Luis Verde, maize product development director for Latin America and Global Sorghum Lead at Corteva Agriscience.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep the virtual meeting as similar as possible to an in-person event,” Baenziger adds. Virtual tours of Lincoln are included that show off the state capital’s fascinating history including its capital building, museums, and Nine-Mile Prairie (a remnant of the tall grass prairie as it was before the plow).

Last year’s NAPB meeting in Pine Mountain, Georgia, attracted a record crowd of over 400. Baenziger says he hopes for even higher numbers this year given the fact that virtual events can be more convenient and affordable for people to attend. He adds that even once the pandemic is over, having a virtual component to the annual meeting could pay dividends.

“We think if we’re successful with this virtual meeting, having some sort of blended meeting in the future might be helpful. For example, last year’s meeting was held during the first week of classes at my university. Having some sort of virtual component could be helpful for people who can’t come.”

For info and to register for this year’s virtual NAPB meeting, visit