Call for virtual short talk submissions for #PlantaePresents panel discussions

Science is about innovation and exploring new ways of doing things. Hence, we think it is time to experiment with a new format for #PlantaePresents.

We are introducing a short talk + panel discussion format, where talks are chosen by a reviewing panel from open video submissions, and the discussions continue online after the event.

The plan came to life from an idea developed by several early-career scientists, and the recognition that we would like this series to connect people and to provide more opportunities for speakers and for discussion; that we would like to provide a platform for more people to openly exchange ideas; and that we all benefit from new collaborations and discussion, something perhaps be even more important for those located outside of North America and Central Europe, which are often less well connected simply due to geographical and financial limitations.

The new experimental format

We announce an open call for 7-minute short talk video submissions around a set of common topics (see below). All submissions will be collated into a YouTube playlist available before the online event. We will choose four talks to be livestreamed during one of our regular seminar series time slots. The talks will be followed by a live Q&A- style panel discussion and accompanied by a Slack channel, allowing the discussion to extend beyond the hour. After the event, the talks and the discussion will be summarized in a Plantae blog post to increase the visibility of all contributions and this new format.

As you plan the short talk, keep in mind that the audience is mostly plant scientists, but that this is a very broad discipline that spans from biochemists to ecologists. Your presentation should provide enough background to be interesting to everyone. Don’t try to put in too much data – rather focus on explaining the question you are studying and a few key findings, and how these findings inform our understanding. Published stories are OK, and remember that the videos will be shared publicly.

Topic areas and dates

  • Plants and their microbiome. From molecules to ecosystems
    • 22 September 2020 9pm EDT
  • Evo-Devo as discovery tool
    • 28 October 2020 10am EDT
  • Heat-proof, drought-proof, flood-proof plants
    • 17 November 2020 9pm EST
  • Specialized metabolites: Medicines, flavors, defense and more
    • 20 January 2021 10am EST

Please complete the linked submission form indicating your talk title and preferred date, and provide a link to your video.

Submit your video by Sept. 14 to be considered for the Sept 22rd panel.

The vision

We envision that these talk-led panel discussions will unearth hidden layers and foster catalytic discussions beyond the specific datasets into more conceptual realms.  Through this format we hope to catalyze new connections and ideas even in a world where scientists travel less, which has been the reality for many scientists since even before COVID-19 closed borders.

Our aim is that this short-talk format reflects our community’s diversity in terms of topics, career stage, ethnicity, gender, geography, and institute type. At the same time we want to avoid generating a multi-class society within the #PlantaePresents seminar series and we encourage everyone to submit short talks. This includes the famous big fish from well-funded universities, the undergraduate with exciting results, the PhD student with a recent breakthrough, the postdoc looking for a job, the industry scientist providing a more applied perspective and the citizen scientist with a kitchen lab finding. We want to provide a level playing field as much as possible.

Hence, we will have people sign up to our Code of Conduct for the panel discussion and following online discussions. After all, evolution is an integral part of science and we aim to improve online formats by replicating the face-to face-positives while leaving the exclusionary behaviors and barriers behind.

If this sounds at all interesting, please consider recording and submitting your 7-minutes talk for one of our upcoming sessions.

The evaluation

We are excited about this new experimental format but we don’t know how it will actually turn out. We will actively solicit feedback after an initial run of six sessions. Please feel free to get in touch with us in the meantime with any comment and feedback you might have. Comments are open below, or you can reach us at

Prefer to contribute in a different way?

Don’t forget, we are also accepting applications to serve as a moderator for the series. Please complete this google form to express your interest. We will begin reviewing applications Sept. 1, 2020.

Brought to you by the Plantae Presents Steering Committee: Jűrgen Kleine-Vehn, Javier Moreno, Katie Rogers, Benjamin Schwessinger, and Mary Williams.

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