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American Society of Plant Biologists supports science outreach by grad students and postdocs

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) has named 12 plant biology researchers as science education mentors for the PlantingScience Master Plant Science Team (MPST).

PlantingScience is an educational and research resource that brings together middle and high school students, plant scientists, and teachers in a virtual learning environment. Students engage in hands-on plant investigations while working with peers at their schools and online with scientist mentors to build collaborations and enhance their understanding of plant science.

Members of the MPST are graduate students and postdoctoral researchers active in all areas of plant science research with an interest in participating in outreach. MPST mentors help middle and high school students and their classroom teachers to develop practical, insightful research skills while investigating the plant themes and teaching modules provided by the PlantingScience program.

More than 9,000 middle and high school students, 2,500 research teams, and teachers in 34 states have experienced the brand of scientific inquiry offered by PlantingScience. Unlike the repetitive lab exercises with predicted outcomes common in many classrooms and textbooks, PlantingScience offers the real world of ambiguity, messy data, and scientific creativity. In its first five years, the website welcomed 1.6 million visitors.

Since becoming an official partner in the PlantingScience project in 2006, ASPB has supported more than 30 early career plant scientists as MPST mentors. In fact, the Society has recently expanded its support, enabling ASPB to support a larger number of MPST mentors.

Congratulations to these 2011 MPST mentors:

  • Veria Alvarado, Assistant Research Scientist, Texas A&M University
  • Shajahan Anver, Graduate Student, University of California, Davis
  • Elena J. Batista, Graduate Student, Louisiana State University
  • Nathan Butler, Graduate Student, Iowa State University
  • Erica A. Fishel, Graduate Student, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Emily Merewitz, Graduate Student, Rutgers University
  • Mona Monfared, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California, Berkeley / USDA Plant Gene Expression Center
  • Christos Noutsos, Postdoctoral Fellow, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Shayani Pieris, New Mexico Consortium
  • Marites Sales, Program Associate, University of Arkansas
  • Scott Schaeffer, Graduate Student, Washington State University
  • Mon-Ray Shao, Graduate Student, Center for Plant Science Innovation, University of NebraskaLincoln
This past spring, the journal Science selected PlantingScience to receive a Science Prize for Online Resources in Education, also known as a SPORE Award. The program was also honored with a 2011 Power of A Silver Award from the American Society of Association Executives.

PlantingScience represents a collaboration of 14 scientific societies with an interest in plant science with additional educational, user, and industry partners. Support for PlantingScience has been provided to the Botanical Society of America by the National Science Foundation and the Monsanto Fund.

Additional information about PlantingScience is available at

Contact: Adam Fagen
American Society of Plant Biologists

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