This two-day joint conference will combine science, education, and social networking to promote interactions among students and faculty in the region. We have put together an inclusive program with six scientific sessions, two education panels, two poster sessions, and two social events. We are in the process of inviting speakers and working on the logistics of meeting organization.

Scientific program: Traditionally, this joint conference has a great reputation of supporting junior faculty and students. In line with this tradition, we will focus on featuring exciting research from junior faculty members in the region this year. So far, five confirmed speakers are at the Assistant Professor level. In addition, six to eight oral presentations will be provided to postdoctorial researchers and students selected from submitted abstracts. Furthermore, we will arrange two poster sessions for students to present their work and receive feedback from the scientific community. To promote students’ participation in the conference, we will give out cash awards for poster presentations in two categories, one for postdoctorial researchers and graduate students and the other for undergraduates and high school students.

Education panels: We plan to host two education panels at the joint conference with a goal to promoter career development of students and postdocs.

Industry panel: We will invite experts from plant biotech companies. These experts will give seminars on research in the front line of genomics, breeding, and R&D focus in the biotech world. A Zoom session will be dedicated to this panel to allow close interactions between industry experts with faculty members, postdocs, and students. Through this panel, students and postdoc will learn how it likes to work in the industry and how to prepare for future jobs in the industry. This panel will also provide an opportunity to promote collaborations between industry experts and faculty members.

Teaching panel: The teaching panel will feature Dr. Samantha Elliott, Director of the Center for Inclusive Teaching and Learning at St. Mary’s College in MD, and faculty members from institutes with varying requirements of research and teaching responsibilities. The tentative topics for this panel include what means to be an inclusive teacher, what teaching and research entail at different institutes, and what experiences are for getting a job in academia.