Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will host the inaugural conference of the iPlant Collaborative, an NSF-funded, $50 million project to create a virtual center in cyberspace for plant sciences researchers and students. The kickoff conference, titled "Bringing Plant and Computing Scientists Together to Solve Plant Biology's Grand Challenges" and scheduled for April 7-9, 2008, will take the first steps in tackling some of plant biology's greatest unsolved mysteries its grand challenge questions.
Researchers from every plant biology discipline will join with an equally diverse selection of computing researchers to collaboratively set criteria for determining the most compelling grand challenges facing plant biology today. They also will discuss the hardware, software and computational tools needed to create a cyberinfrastructure to solve those challenges.
After the conference, self-forming teams from around the country and around the world will propose specific grand challenge questions for the iPlant Collaborative to tackle. Proto-teams will begin to form at the conference, but attendance is not required to submit a proposal.
iPlant anticipates taking on two to four community-chosen grand challenge questions by the end of its first year, and more in future years. The cyberinfrastructure the collaborative builds will be custom designed to meet the needs of the specific questions selected. Categories of questions on which the iPlant community might choose to focus include, but are not limited to, questions about how plants grow from single cells into complex, multicellular organisms; how and to what extent plants can adapt to environmental changes; how plants have evolved in the past and their potential to evolve in the future; and how plants live together with other organisms in ecosystems.
Solving grand challenges is crucial, says University of Arizona plant sciences professor and iPlant director Richard Jorgensen, Ph.D., becaus
|Contact: Jim Bono|
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory