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Corteva Travel Scholarship

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Alexander Susko

Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Breeding

University of Minnesota

Alexander is a PhD Candidate and Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow at the University of Minnesota studying plant breeding.  He is advised by Dr. Kevin Smith. His research seeks to uncover the genetics and biomechanics of lodging resistance in cereal crops. He employs a range of research techniques from genomics to video analysis, in fields and wind tunnels, to better quantify and relate phenotypes critical to lodging resistance.  Previously, his Masters research quantified genetic variation for pH adaptability in the woody genus Rhododendron, as well as the population genetics of the wide-ranging US azalea Rhododendron viscosum. He intends to graduate in August 2019 and looks forward to working with plants, technology, and people thereafter.

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Bal Krishna Maharjan

MS Student, Plant Biotechnology

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

Bal Krishna is a master’s student in the Plant Biotechnology program of Dr. Muthusamy Manoharan at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He is from Nepal and received his BS in Agriculture Science (Agronomy) at Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He came to US for MS at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 2017 and he has been working on CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene editing. His current research project is in Chalk5 gene which contributes to chalkiness in the endosperm of rice grains. The objective of his research is to edit Chalk5 gene in rice using CRISPR/Cas9 technology to reduce chalkiness. He wishes to graduate and advance his career in the sector of plant breeding and crop improvement that can help in improving crop yield and nutrition.


Gina M. Sideli

Ph.D. candidate , Walnut Improvement Program

University of California, Davis

Gina Sideli is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group at University of California, Davis. She completed her B.S. degree in biology at Stony Brook University, and her M.S. degree in botany at California State University, Chico. The objectives of her dissertation research are the development of automated, high-throughput phenotyping methods, and the evaluation of the genetic architecture for two traits in walnut. Her main research interests are genomic predictions, phenomics and the use of genome-wide scans to uncover QTLs underlying trait variation.

Introduced in the year 2016 to foster interaction between graduate students studying plant breeding at Texas A&M and the students studying plant breeding or a related science at other institutions. The program encourages information exchange on research ideas and promotes networking among students at the symposium. The scholarship is solely administered by the symposium organizing committee and is fully funded by Corteva.

Three students will be selected to present oral keynote lectures during the day of the symposium selected by the organizing committee. The presentation will be a 5 minute rapid oral followed by 2 minutes of questions. In addition, awardees will present a poster of their research to allow for follow-up discussion during the poster session. All three students selected will receive $450 scholarships. Finally, presenters will have the opportunity to arrange meetings with local researchers the following day.


  • Applicants must be full-time graduate students at United States college affiliated institutions.

  • All applicants must upload their "Presentation Title”, "Presentation Abstract," and other required information into the student competition sign-up form.

  • All applicants must send their research presentation electronically no later than the day prior to the scheduled presentation.

  • Selected applicants must submit a biographical PowerPoint slide.

  • Students in the Texas A&M University system are ineligible to apply.

  • Applicant must agree to arrive at AUS or IAH airports before 4 PM on February 20 and stay through 1:00PM February 22.

 Selection Criteria

  • The originality of the research presented, which may or may not be explicitly related to the symposium theme

  • The quality of the writing (including clarity, grammar, and understandable)

  • The interest of the subject matter and approach

  • The suitability of the conference presentation (including appropriate length, clear results obtained, and appropriate conclusions).

  • The Graduate Student Organizing Committee will evaluate blind abstracts to select the three awardees.

*In fairness to other participants, abstracts that are over the specific word limit will automatically be disqualified.