William Kramer

Role: Conference Bursary Recipient

Department: Plant Agriculture

College: OAC

Conference Attended: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory – Plant Photobiology

Location: Virtual

Value: $186

Research Presentation:

Similar to FFTs goal of transitioning current farming procedures towards environmentally sustainable practices, the objective of my research is to focus on understanding how corn plants can better utilize available nitrogen, so it is not subject to environmental loss. Crop seedlings that are grown in an area with an abundance of neighbouring competitors are subject to physiological stress due to the altered light environment that is evoked by neighbours. From the sun’s light spectrum, plants prefer to absorb red light and reflect far-red light. Increased plant material will reflect more far-red light, which is detected by plant photoreceptors, and can cause physiological damage. My research focuses specifically on understanding how far-red enriched environments can impact the nitrogen assimilation cycle. Thus far, I have identified that nitrate is accumulated when grown in the presence of neighbouring competitors. This suggests that any excess nitrogen applied to support plant development is not fully being utilized by plants and instead could be subject to leaching, volatilization, etc. By further investigating each step of the nitrogen assimilation pathway, we could begin to provide information in identifying targets for improving weed stress tolerance and will better understand the physiological mechanism involved in weed-crop competition for nitrogen.

Objectives for Attending: 

One of the main goals I sought to achieve when starting my M.Sc. was to gain more experience presenting at an academic conference. Although there seemed to be various opportunities available at the beginning of my project, the global shutdown as a result of the pandemic limited these opportunities. Various conferences were able to transition to a virtual format, however, the lack of access to data collection had set my project behind. Months later, I now finally feel that I have acquired enough data and am ready to share this research at an academic conference. Given the opportunity to present my research would allow me to gain my confidence in public speaking, which would be a valuable tool in the future of my career. Furthermore, assessing the constructive feedback received regarding my research would allow me to understand any gaps in data and evaluate if adjustments in the research scope should be considered.

I believe having a strong professional network is an essential component of career development. Given the opportunity to present at this conference would allow me to connect with an audience outside of my current network. One of the many advantages to having conferences virtually, compared to in-person, is audience reach. Travel often makes conferences less accessible, however, offering a virtual conference allows individuals to attend regardless of their location. Given the efficiency of virtual conference platforms, there will be various networking opportunities, especially to an international audience that will be attending this conference. Any chance to make a connection with someone outside of my network could open a door to a job opportunity. Given the chance to present my research at this conference would not only enhance my professional network but also improve my confidence in presenting.