The 11th European Plant Science Retreat 2019


The 11th European Plant Science Retreat was hosted this year at the University of Nottingham from 8 to 10 of July. The annual conference is targeted at PhD students studying at European universities and aims to bring together early career researchers working in plant sciences. The meeting was hosted and organised by PhD students from the University of Nottingham with the generous financial support of the European Plant Phenotyping Network 2020 (EPPN2020) and other funding bodies.

“We were deeply honoured to have started our event with a plenary talk by Prof. Dame Caroline Dean. Her career path, her research but also her modesty were truly inspiring! Afterwards, the conference was divided into seven sessions – Development, Signalling, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Abiotic Stress, Food Security, Plant Physiology and Plant Phenotyping (Figure 1). Each session included three oral presentations from selected PhD delegates after an initial talk from the invited keynote speaker. We were delighted to host Prof. Zoe Wilson (University of Nottingham), Prof. Joop Vermeer (University of Zurich), Prof. Sofie Goormachtig (VIB, Ghent), Dr. Daniel Gibbs (University of Birmingham), Dr. Matthew Reynolds (CIMMYT, Mexico), Prof. Erik Murchie (University of Nottingham) and Dr. Saoirse Tracy (University College Dublin) who all gave excellent talks about their group’s research and their personal career development. The second and third day included poster sessions for the remaining PhD attendees to showcase their research. The event also included a walking tour to Wollaton Park, a stunning deer park besides our main campus, a networking dinner at a local pub, a prize ceremony for best talks/posters, an evaluation session and the opportunity for delegates to volunteer to host next year’s event.

This meeting was characterised throughout by excellent science and a vibrant atmosphere! Our 110 delegates were all at different stages in their PhDs and came from universities in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg and Germany (Figure 2). We were amazed by the high-quality research showcased and the interest the audience showed on every single topic. During the poster sessions there were also plenty of stimulating discussions and students had the opportunity to delve deeper into the science presented.

Overall, we believe that this meeting was a success. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, both from our invited speakers and the students. A comfortable atmosphere was established from the very beginning, people interacted, shared ideas and advice throughout the three days and some potential future collaborations were arranged! In addition, as an organising committee, we gained valuable experience in sourcing funding from sponsors, we improved our organisation and team-work skills and we were able to network with our peers from across Europe.

We hope that EPSR will continue for many years to come (hopefully next year in Barcelona!) and continue to provide a platform for PhD students to network and share their work. On behalf of the organising committee, I would like to thank the EPPN 2020 for the sponsorship and enabling our event to be such a success.”

The EPSR 2019 Committee

Dimitra Angelopoulou, Jordan Robson, Johanna Astrand, Alexander Bridgen, Cindy Callens, Emily Morris, Carlos Robles Zazueta, Martina Franchini and Jason Banda, University of Nottingham


Figure 1. Abstract submissions to themed sessions.


Figure 2. Percentage of participating attendees in relation to their European university


The members of the 11th European Plant Science Retreat organising committee (from left to right): Dimitra, Johanna, Carlos, Alex, Jason, Jordan, Martina, Emily and Cindy


All delegates of the 11th European Plant Science Retreat


EPSR 2019 registration fully underway


Plenary Keynote Speaker Dame Caroline Dean


A total of three hours spread out over two days for poster presentations by all the attendants


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