Plant Imaging Consortium A new perspective on plants

PIC celebrates Fascination of Plants Day! – 05/11/2017

In coordination with European Plant Science Organization (EPSO) and the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), PIC researchers hosted a series of outreach activities to celebrate Fascination of Plants Day 2017. From May 11th-May 17th, PIC participants hosted local elementary and high school students at Arkansas State University to learn about plant phenotyping using the LemnaTec Scanlyzer, create their own plant tissue culture “specimen”, and hear from PIC scientists.

On May 17th, PIC participants traveled to Fox Meadow Elementary in Jonesboro, AR to present a hands-on activity to approximately 70 students. The presentation and activity focused on using plants to make human medicines and aquaculture products.

PIC participates in A-State DNA Day Event – 04/07/2017

Lucía Acosta Gamboa and Nirman Nepal, two PhD students working with PIC, participated in A-State's 2nd annual DNA Day and taught local junior high school students about the important of vitamin C and the different pathways it can be transported in plants and animals!

Stressed Out! Arkansas Curriculum Conference – 11/4/2016

Dr. Sunder Balasubramanian organized a workshop for Arkansas school teachers at the Arkansas Curriculum Conference. Teachers were presented with suggestions for classroom activities using bean plants that were grown under stressful conditions. The plants can be grown in a classroom setting under simple easily reproducible stresses like variable soil composition, variable soil moisture, variable water pH and overpopulation. The plants were visually monitored and the leaf's ability to absorb light was also measured using simple spectroscopic techniques. Teachers were shown how to build optical imaging systems like spectrophotometers from readymade parts that they could find in other science classrooms in their buildings.
Little Rock, AR school district was represented at the workshop.

PIC participates in Arkansas Science Festival events - 10/24/2016

On Friday, October 7th, members from the Arkansas State University PIC team provided hands-on demonstrations in plant science to hundreds of local citizens and community members during "Science Fun Night/ Mad Scientist GLO-run". In addition, PIC shared their enthusiasm for science at the A-State Regional Farmers’ Market on the morning of October 8th. During both events, attendees investigated Arabidopsis phenotypes, identified and sorted common vegetables into their botanical parts, and explored plant metabolism in the "Vitamin C Pathway" game. PIC team members included Dr. Argelia Lorence, Shea Harris, Lucia Acosta, Jarrod Creameans, Erin Langley, Kendl Fischer" The event was sponsored by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute at Arkansas State University.

Workshop @ Science Teachers of Missouri Conference – 10/8/2016

Dr. Sunder Balasubramanian organized a workshop titled "Monitoring plants under growth stress using optical imaging techniques in the classroom" for Missouri school teachers at the Science Teachers of Missouri (STOM) Conference. Teachers were presented with suggestions for classroom activities using bean plants that were grown under stressful conditions. The plants can be grown in a classroom setting under simple easily reproducible stresses like variable soil composition, variable soil moisture, variable water pH and overpopulation. The plants were visually monitored and the leaf's ability to absorb light was also measured using simple spectroscopic techniques. Teachers were shown how to build optical imaging systems like spectrophotometers from readymade parts that they could find in other science classrooms in their buildings.
Teachers from Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro, MO ; Columbia Public Schools, Columbia, MO ; Rockwood High School, Eureka, MO and pre-service teacher program instructors from University of Missouri St. Louis attended the workshop.

Science Outreach, Amazeum Children's Museum, Bentonville, AR – 9/17/2016

The Amazeum, a popular new children’s science museum, invited PI Fiona Goggin to set up a display on entomology as part of their Community Spotlight series, which highlights the activities of local scientists. Dr. Goggin and members of her laboratory, Hillary Fischer, Dhaval Shah, and Janithri Wickramanayake, talked to parents and children about what insects are and why they are important. Children had the opportunity to handle and interact with live hissing cockroaches, which stimulates their interest in biology and helps children overcome a phobia of insects.

Mutant Millets - 7/16/2016

PIC faculty and staff hosted a professional development training workshop for K-12 teachers interested in the Mutant Millets Program. The one day workshop held at Arkansas School for Mathematics, Science, and the Arts in Hot Springs, AR, was attended by 9 secondary science teachers from AR and Missouri. During the training, the teachers received hands-on experience in starting and managing the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center’s Mutant Millet program in their classroom. Highlights included how to’s in planting, data collection, mutant phenotype identification, using PIC’s online data repository. All teachers plan to use their new Mutant Millet kits in their classrooms for the 2016-2017 school year

News update - 3/18/2016

PIC students and staff participated in Arkansas State University's inaugural DNA Day held at the A-State Student Activities Center. The event was one of many held nationwide as part of National DNA Day, an observance promoted by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This celebration offered regional students and teachers exciting opportunities to learn about the latest advances in genomic research and explore how those advances impact their lives. During the event, PIC undergraduate and graduate students shared their research science with more than 100 7th and 8th grade students from Northeast Arkansas. Specifically for the event, PIC members created an original demonstration and interactive game to compare vitamin C production in animals versus plants. The demonstration allowed the students to compare a human's inability to produce vitamin C and numerous metabolic pathways plants have to ensure its production. The booth cumulated with the students learning how gene mutations, over-expression and misshapen proteins all have an effect on production of vitamin C in organisms and vitamin C's importance in successful stress tolerance in plants.
The event was sponsored by the Arkansas Biosciences Institute at Arkansas State University.

News update - 10/2/2015

The outreach team in northeast Arkansas participates in Arkansas Science Festival events. On Oct. 2, over 400 K-12 children and parents participated in the Mad Scientist Glo-Run and Science Fun Night as part of the kick-off of the 2015 Arkansas Science Festival. PIC showcased the Mutant Millets citizen science project and involved students and parents in various activities related to the different edible parts of fruits and vegetables, the effect that vitamin C has on the body, and the different parts of a plant cell. The ASU Farmers Market and A-State Homecoming Tailgate was held on Oct. 3, where PIC opened these activities again to the general public. On Oct. 5, Shea Harris, outreach lead in northeast Arkansas, presented a booth on the Mutant Millets project at the AR STEM Coalition Meeting. PIC reached over 1200 students and parents during the three-day period.

Phenotype-to-Genotype » 10/2/2014 - University of Arkansas - Fayetteville

As part of the 14th Biennial Biennial Insect Festival of Arkansas (October 2, 2014, Fayetteville, AR), the Goggin laboratory (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville) presented a demonstration on molecular biology. The objectives of the display were to explain in general terms what DNA, genotypes, phenotypes, and mutations are, and to demonstrate how scientists study mutations to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype. Visitors used microscopes to distinguish between mutant and wild-type fruit flies, and used Lego blocks to visualize how mutations can affect the nucleic acid sequence of DNA. This public outreach event was attended by ~2,500 visitors, including elementary school groups, parents, and teachers.

Plant High Throughout Phenotyping » 10/10/2014 - Jonesboro, AR

As part of the Arkansas Science Festival held at Arkansas State University, Shea Harris, PIC Outreach Coordinator for North East Arkansas and the Lorence Laboratory presented a demonstration on plant phenotyping at the Science Expo (October 10, 2014, Jonesboro, AR). The objectives of the display were to explain the importance of studying plant phenotypes using Arabidopsis and rice as models. Young students had the chance to learn why vitamin C is important for human and plant health and to observe plant structures with magnifying glasses and dissecting scopes. More advanced students got to learn how modern high throughput phenotyoping tools are being used to identify plants with desirable attributes (e.g. rice tolerant to salt) among large collections of variants.

The consortium supports education in science and technology by providing research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students, and by offering outreach programs for primary and secondary schools, including dissemination of the Mutant Millets hands-on teaching module.

Member Institutions


National Science foundation awards #1430427 and #1430428: Collaborative Research on Plant Stress Response through Innovations in Phenomics and Molecular Imaging Technologies
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The Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies