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Strength by Retreating - PMB Retreat 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: Greg P. Copenhaver, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, shares his thoughts after leading the annual Plant Molecular Biology Retreat Sept. 12 to 14.  Caroline Dean, Ph.D., from John Innes Center of Norwich, UK and Jonathan Jones, Ph.D., from Sainsbury Laboratory of Norwich, UK were the keynote speakers. The PMB Retreats include research lectures given by new consortium members, keynote addresses by internationally renowned scientists and informal "chalk talks" by faculty, postdoctoral research associates, graduate students and corporate scientists. This year, students, postdocs and faculty from NCSU, UNC, Duke and Wake Forest mingled with staff from local ag biotech companies BASF, Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and Syngenta.

Photo Courtesy of UNC Chapel Hill  

I run a university research group, edit a journal, act as a founder for a biotech company and try to be a good husband and father.  Even with all that I wasn’t the busiest person attending the 28th Annual Plant Molecular Biology Retreat held at Wrightsville Beach. The event was attended by academic and industrial scientist from the Southeastern U.S. and two fantastic keynote speakers from the UK. 

So, why do all these frenetically busy people take time to attend a retreat of this sort?  

  • First and foremost, because it is an opportunity to hear about terrific science from investigators at all career stages (new employees, graduate students, postdocs, senior group leaders and faculty members). 
  • Equally important, because the PMB Consortium is comprised of both industrial and academic scientist, in an equal partnership, it provides a rare forum for being pulled outside your typical intellectual routine.  For me, explaining my research to commercial scientists encourages me to think about my lab’s efforts in a new light – I’m confident that my industrial colleagues benefit from the same intellectual nudge. 
  • Last, but not least, it turns out that the retreat is just really fun too.  Because it is now a long-standing tradition of all the local plant groups, from the universities and companies, people feel comfortable and routinely bring their significant others and children to enjoy the spectacular natural resources North Carolina has to offer (beaches and mountains in alternating years). 

The culmination of those three facets of the retreat makes us stronger scientists, unites us as a plant research community, and helps balance our hectic (and often competing) work/life responsibilities.  For those of you who came this year – thank you and we hope to see you again!  If you’re thinking of coming for the first time next year (or re-joining us after a hiatus) – we look forward to extending you a warm welcome!

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thanks for the info learned lots and enjoyed it thank you. oh PS you are very smart

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