Welcome to the Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee!


The North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC)

October 2020 Update on ICAR 2021 

  • NAASC postponed ICAR 2020- Seattle to June 2021-Seattle due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Given uncertainties in travel, vaccines, and publich health safety, NAASC has made the difficult decision to convert ICAR 2021 to a virtual conference.
  • The timeframe and approach are being developed now, with tentative plans to use the same timeframe (June 21-25, 2021), previously re-schedueld in-person meeting.
  • NAASC are currently surveying the global community for input into the planning. 
  • The webpage to follow (and you can sign up for ICAR 2021 email updates): 


NAASC Statement on Racial Justice and Equity (June 3, 2020)

The events of the past week provide another searing reminder that we have a great deal of work to do before we realize a world where everyone has a full, healthy life and the opportunity to fulfill their potential. 

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and David McAtee are only the most recent and most violent examples of what Black Americans experience every day. While it might seem to some that academia and the sciences provide a space of refuge, racism is prevalent within the academy, and it is hurting valued members of our community. We acknowledge that for many of us, including our mentees, it may not be possible–or even appropriate–to focus on science right now.

As a group elected to represent the community of Arabidopsis researchers in North America, we:

  1. Express our anger, sadness, and disgust at current events, including the violent response to peaceful protesters by police and the inflammatory language of many in leadership roles. NAASC strongly rejects racism and discrimination in any form.
  2. Reach out to our Black colleagues, trainees, and students to express support and solidarity and empathy. We stand with the Black community, and extend our love and concern to other communities that experience injustice. 
  3. Will continue our efforts to raise up and center minoritized voices. This includes using DiversifyPlantSci (https://tinyurl.com/DiversifyPlantSci) as one of several resources for identifying potential speakers for seminars, meetings and candidates for leadership roles, and sponsoring focused activities to support, mentor, and promote the advancement of under-represented minorities.
  4. Reiterate that anti-racism work is explicitly part of NAASC’s mission, and should be for all scientists. We reaffirm our commitment to doing the work needed to break down structural inequities. In this article, we provide some resources for those with privilege. We commit ourselves to providing more resources in the future. 

We call on our colleagues who are not themselves in marginalized communities to reflect on what specific actions you can take to support those in the Black community. In addition, we ask our entire NAASC constituency to provide feedback for how we might better serve and support you.

NAASC Committee for Diversity and Equity

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The 31st International Conference on Arabidopsis Research has been postponed to 2021, due to Covid pandemic. ICAR 2021 is at the University of Washington, Seattle: 21-25 June, 2021


The Next US-based ICAR is 21-25 June, 2021, and is being organized by NAASC, who will serve as the main conference organizing committee with input from an international External Advisory Board (EAB, see list below NAASC members)

NAASC representatives to MASC (Multinational Arabidopsis Steering Committee): Joanna Friesner (NAASC Executive Director)

Current NAASC Members:

  1. Roger Innes, Indiana University (2016 - 2021) NAASC President
  2. Peter McCourt, University of Toronto (2016 - 2021)
  3. Sean Cutler, University of California, Riverside (2017 - 2022)
  4. Jennifer Nemhauser, University of Washington, Seattle (2017 - 2022) NAASC Vice-President
  5. Federica Brandizzi, Michigan State University (2018 - 2023)
  6. Anna Stepanova, NC State University (2018 - 2023) NAASC Secretary
  7. Siobhan Braybrook, UCLA (2019 - 2024)
  8. Keith Slotkin, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center & Univ. of Missouri-Columbia (2019 - 2024) NAASC Assistant Secretary
  9. Cris Argueso, Colorado State University (2020 - 2025) NAASC Treasurer
  10. Adrienne Roeder, Cornell University (2020 - 2025)

**Immediate Past NAASC Members**

  1. Sarah Assmann, Penn State University, (2013 - 2018)
  2. Erich Grotewold, The Ohio State University, (2013 - 2018)
  3. Rick Vierstra, Washington University- St. Louis, (2014 - 2018)
  4. Doris Wagner, University of Pennsylvania, (2014 - 2018)
  5. Jose Dinneny, Stanford (2015 - 2020) 
  6. Elizabeth Haswell, Washington University- St. Louis (2015 - 2020) 

NAASC Staff: Joanna Friesner (Executive Director, NAASC) has served as the NAASC staffperson since 2006, including four years as MASC Coordinator. She can be reached at [This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]. NAASC is primarily composed of U.S. researchers, and typically at least one Canadian researcher, all of whom are elected to five year terms of service by the North American Arabidopsis community. Current and Past NAASC Members are listed at the bottom of the page.

ICAR 2020 External Advisory Board:

  1. Adan Colon-Carmona, USA, University Massachusetts- Boston
  2. Adrienne Roeder, USA, Cornell University
  3. Andrew Leakey, USA, University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign
  4. Beronda Montgomery, USA, Michigan State University; MSU/DOE Plant Research Laboratory
  5. Blake Meyers, EAB Liaison to NAASC, USA, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
  6. Caroline Dean, UK, John Innes Centre
  7. Hiroshi Maeda, USA, University of Wisconsin- Madison
  8. Kirsten Bomblies, UK, John Innes Centre
  9. Magdelena Benzanilla, USA, University Massachusetts- Amherst
  10. Magnus Nordberg, Austria, Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology
  11. Miltos Tsiantis, Germany, Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research
  12. Ottoline Leyser, UK, Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  13. Susannah Tringe, USA, DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI)
  14. Yuichiro Tsuchiya, Japan, Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules, Nagoya University
  15. Zachary Nimchuk, USA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

August 29, 2017 Update to NAASC Term of Service: To provide better continuity and shared knowledge for NAASC-organized ICARs, current NAASC agreed, by consensus, to increase the term from four to five years. Current members will opt-in to a 5th year, while all NAASC elections beginning with fall, 2017, will designate 5 year terms for new NAASC members.

NAASC Activities

DiversifyPlantSci Listserv (Feb. 2019)

  1. NAASC is committed to promoting a global plant sciences community that reflects the true diversity of all its members.
  2. To further this mission, the NAASC Diversity and Inclusion Task Force have created the DiversifyPlantSci online resource, a list of plant scientists from under-represented groups (see below) to reference as you seek speakers, reviewers, and participants for career or mentorship opportunities.
  3. This list is intended to highlight the diversity within the global plant science community.
  4. We hope to increase diversity and inclusion by making it easy to expand invitations past one’s personal networks.
  5. Nominate yourself if you are a plant scientist who: identifies as a woman; identifies as LGBTQIA+; has a disability; and/or is a member of an under-represented ethnic or racial group (As defined by the US National Science Foundation: Women, persons with disabilities, and three racial and ethnic groups—blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians or Alaska Natives—are underrepresented in US STEM; we also include Filipino. https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17310/digest/introduction/)
  6. Please do not nominate others, we allow self-registration only. However we strongly encourage you to forward the form to others that you know and invite them to consider signing up for inclusion.
  7. You may self-nominate by filling in the DiversifyPlantSci Google Form
  8. We've used some language from the DiversityEEB list, and here's their reference: https://diversifyeeb.com/entries/

RCN: Arabidopsis Research and Training for the 21st century (ART-21)

You can view a brief overview of this activity as presented at PAG 2016 at: http://bit.ly/1QfMh4V

June 2015: NAASC member Siobhan Brady (as PI, UC Davis) and NAASC Coordinator (as co-PI, UC Davis), with contributions from several project Steering Committee members, were awarded 5 years of funding from the US National Science Foundation to support community engagement and activities focusing on research and training needs for Plant Biology in the 21st Century. www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1518280

Project's Three Main Objectives:

  1. Identify emerging technologies where using Arabidopsis as a model organism will provide fundamental discoveries and enable translational research in crop species
  2. Enhance interdisciplinary training of scientists for academia and extra-academic careers
  3. Increase diversity of Arabidopsis research scientists using targeted mechanisms

Major Project Activities

    1. Annual Focus Groups in each of 4 years (primarily involving North American plant biologists and several international community members) on three main topics:
      • Computational training of biologists for academia and industry in the 21st Century
      • Genomic experimental biology techniques for academia and industry in the 21st Century
      • Interdisciplinary Training and Cross-training for 21st Century Careers
      • *Wrap Up, Evaluation and Assessment and Write-Shop*
    2. Enabling Participation of US Scientists to attend ICAR (2015-2019):
      • US Early Career Researcher (ECR) travel awards
      • US Under-Represented Minority (URM) travel awards for historically under-represented groups in US science
    3. Community activities at each ICAR (2015-2019):
      • Community workshops on each year's theme (matching the Focus Group)
      • Interactive programs for community workshops involving early career researchers
      • ICAR 2017 included an expanded list of activities involving research and training needs, aimed primarily at early-career researchers. These activities were made possible by the ART-21 RCN award from the NSF to NAASC, and through sponsorship and partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center (DDPSC) in St. Louis.
    4. Expanded ICAR 2017 Activities That Took Place in St. Louis, Missouri

Pre-Meeting Hands On Workshops for early career applicants.

      The workshop content focused on emerging bioinformatic and computational skills and emerging genomics technologies. Activities included an full day workshops: Data Carpentry; phenotyping hackathon, and ATAC-seq lab:
    • Data Carpentry: This event was an example-driven workshop on basic concepts, skills and tools for working more effectively with data. Short tutorials alternated with hands-on practical exercises, and participants were encouraged both to help one another, and to try applying what they have learned to their own research problems during and between sessions.
    • ATAC-seq hands-on workshop on mapping chromatin accessibility and TF footprints: Instructor: Professor Roger Deal (Emory University)- This workshop introduced attendees to the ATAC-seq process including isolation of nuclei, preparation of ATAC-seq libraries, and analysis of the resulting data to identify open chromatin regions and TF footprints. This lab workshop included both wet-lab and computational components.
    • Hackathon for high-throughput phenotyping: Designer: Cody Markelz (University of California, Davis). On-site Instructors: Malia Gehan and Noah Fahlgren (Donald Danforth Center). Many plant biologists are not formally trained to perform tasks needed to piece together their own image processing phenotyping pipeline. The hackathon focused on expanding on the introduction to genomics data and data management and analysis for genomics research provided in the Data Carpentry workshop.
    • New Sessions: Quantitative and Computational Biology; Emerging Genomics Technologies.
    • Special Community Workshops:
      • URM career-development workshop
      • ECR career-development workshop
  1. Publications/ Information Sharing
    • White Papers stemming from Focus Groups
    • Newsletters
    • Webpage information dissemination
    • Year 5 publication

Recorded Presentations from the "Seeds of Change: Using Plants to Broaden the Impact of Science in Society" Symposium held November 7 2018 at UC Davis, and organized by NAASC

The public symposium and the accompanying two day workshop were supported the US National Science Foundation* in an award to PI Siobhan Brady/Co-PI Joanna Friesner

These presentations can be found on the Plantae Website

*This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. #1518280. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this event are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

NAASC History

During the first years of the Arabidopsis Genome Project, an ad hoc committee was formed to forge relationships and foster communication among the groups and countries world-wide who were involved in the genome sequencing effort. It was determined that the committee should be made up of three representatives from North America, two representatives each from continental Europe and the United Kingdom, and one representative each from Australia and Japan. These representatives would be elected by the groups that they would represent, and they would serve terms of three years. This committee was known as the Multinational Science Steering Committee. In February of 1992, in response to the need for elected North American representatives to the Multinational Science Steering Committee, Howard Goodman, Elliot Meyerowitz and Chris Somerville called for the formation of a North American Arabidopsis Steering Committee (NAASC). In the first election, six North American Arabidopsis researchers were elected.

In its first year, the NAASC dealt with a number of issues including the decision to have a National Arabidopsis meeting in Ohio in 1993, determining who should represent North America on the Multinational Science Steering Committee, and advising the NSF and other funding agencies of the community's needs for database services.

It was additionally determined that the committee would consist of six members and that members would serve for three years. Two new members would be elected annually via the Arabidopsis Newsgroup , and two members would retire.

Since that time, the NAASC has evolved into the main organizing and fundraising body for the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research when it is held in North America. The conference is now held annually and rotates between North America, Europe, and Austral-Asia.

The NAASC also collaborates with MASC members that volunteer to host the annual ICAR. NAASC solicits funds to help North American junior scientists travel to these international meetings. Since 2004, the NAASC has applied for funding to allow underrepresented minorities, and scientists from Historically Black Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions in the United States to fully participate in the Annual Arabidopsis meetings. Additionally, the NAASC serves as a liaison between members of the community and government and not-for-profit granting agencies and provides representation of the community to service facilities.

In 2000, the members of the NAASC unanimously voted to amend the process of election and alter the term of service for members to coincide with the annual conference rather than the calendar year. It was felt that this alteration would help to ensure continuity in the committee. In 2003, the process was again amended, in the following ways:

Each member of the committee will serve for four full years, to further aid in continuity in the committee (August 29, 2017 Update to NAASC Term of Service: To provide better continuity and shared knowledge for NAASC-organized ICARs the term of service increased from four to five years. All NAASC elections beginning with fall 2017 will designate 5 year terms for new NAASC members.)

Members of the North American Arabidopsis research community who have served previously on NAASC may be re-nominated for the election, and if elected, may serve another term on the committee

Elected NAASC Members

Members of the North American Arabidopsis research community have been extremely generous in their willingness to serve on the NAASC. Since the initial call for an elected committee in 1992, 39 researchers have served on the committee.

NAASC members, past and present, are listed below:

  • Elliot Meyerowitz 1992 - 1994
  • Chris Somerville 1992 - 1994
  • Fred Ausubel 1992 - 1995
  • Joe Ecker 1992 - 1995
  • Joanne Chory 1992 - 1996
  • David Meinke 1992 - 1996
  • Gloria Coruzzi 1994 - 1997
  • Mark Estelle 1994 - 1997
  • Pam Green 1995 - 1998
  • Rob Last 1995 - 1998
  • Rick Amasino 1996 - 1999
  • Daphne Preuss 1996 - 1999
  • Jeff Dangl 1997 - 2000
  • Detlef Weigel 1997 - 2000
  • Chuck Gasser 1998 - 2001
  • Steve Kay 1998 - 2001
  • Kathy Barton 1999 - 2002
  • Mary Lou Guerinot 1999 - 2002
  • Peter McCourt 2000 - 2003
  • Mike Sussman 2000 - 2003
  • Bonnie Bartel 2001 - 2005
  • Eric Richards 2001 - 2005
  • Greg Copenhaver 2002 - 2006
  • Brenda Winkel 2002 - 2006
  • Philip Benfey 2003 - 2007
  • Rob McClung 2003 - 2007
  • Judith Bender 2004 - 2008
  • Xing-Wang Deng 2004 - 2008
  • Joe Kieber 2005 - 2009
  • Xuemei Chen 2005 - 2009
  • Caren Chang 2006 - 2010
  • Julian Schroeder 2006 - 2010
  • Scott Poethig 2007 - 2011
  • George Haughn 2007 - 2011
  • Mark Estelle 2008 - 2012
  • Jane Glazebrook 2008 - 2012
  • Xinnian Dong 2009 - 2013
  • Blake Meyers 2009 - 2013
  • Dominique Bergmann 2010 - 2014
  • Wolf Frommer 2010 - 2014
  • Nicholas Provart 2011 - 2015
  • Jose Alonso 2011 - 2015
  • Siobhan Brady 2012 - 2016
  • Keiko Torii 2012 - 2016
  • Sally Assmann 2013 - 2018 (extended to fit new 5 year term)
  • Erich Grotewold 2013 - 2018 (extended to fit new 5 year term)
  • Doris Wagner 2014 - 2018
  • Richard Vierstra 2014 - 2018
  • Jose Dinneny 2015 - 2020
  • Elizabeth Haswell 2015 - 2020
  • Roger Innes 2016 - 2021
  • Peter McCourt 2016 - 2021
  • Sean Cutler 2017 - 2022
  • Jennifer Nemhauser 2017 - 2022
  • Federica Brandizzi 2018 - 2023
  • Anna Stepanova 2018 - 2023
  • Siobhan Braybrook, 2019 - 2024
  • Keith Slotkin, 2019 - 2024
  • Cris Argueso, 2020 - 2025
  • Adrienne Roeder, 2020 - 2025

Last modified on October 15, 2020