1-Vlatko Galić (PhD), Agriculture Institute of Osijek (Croatia), 2-Dr. Abdellah Barakate, the James Hutton Institute (UK), 3- Allan Wenck (PhD, JDPresident of SIVB, Head of Trait Engineering, BASF (US)    

The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) is the world’s largest Student Association in The Field of Agriculture and Related Sciences. IAAS was founded in 1957 and was composed of only 8 member countries. Over the last 60 years, IAAS has grown into a much more substantial organization encompassing 53 member countries and more than 10,000 active members. IAAS provides and communicates important information and resources to members such as events, congresses, internship opportunities and student exchange programs. IAAS has a huge positive impact on the students’ experiences and provides opportunities to prove their abilities and leadership skills in a wide variety of fields. IAAS is the place where agriculture students support (moral and material support) each other, even when they may reside thousands of miles away from each other and have not or even may not have the opportunity to meet face to face. 

Besides being the Student Co-chair (PB) in the Society for In Vitro Biology, I am also the country lead as the National Director of IAAS, Turkey. This is a new designation as the organization has developed a Regional Directorship focus IAAS MENA (Middle East and North Africa). Very recently, we successfully launched our webinar (in 3 sessions) entitled ‘’Conventional & Advanced Plant Breeding’’ as part of this Regional Directorship – IAAS Turkey. I was pleased by and motivated by the support of hundreds of international agriculture students from 39 countries around the globe as well as the national committee members that enabled us to successfully launch this initiative. Different approaches in terms of plant breeding and steps taken to commercialize those traits and/or varieties were discussed by the expert scientists consisting of global representation from Croatia, the UK, and the USA. The Q&A session in particular attracted intensive attention from the students and there were very interesting discussions. Vlatko Galić (PhD) from the Agriculture Institute of Osijek (Croatia) gave an engaging talk about genetic resources in maize and computational methods for predictive breeding, and the concept of heterosis and heterological groups was also discussed.  He also gave a great overview of conventional methods for elite hybrid production. Dr. Abdellah Barakate from the James Hutton Institute (UK) followed with a discussion on conventional and new tools for manipulation of meiotic genes and their impact on plant breeding. Finally, Allan Wenck (PhD, JD) current president of the SIVB and Head of Trait Engineering at BASF, provided a discussion of how to bring traits to the world market and advanced plant breeding approaches. The unique contributions of the speakers were well appreciated and received by the students. This virtual seminar allowed for students from almost 40 countries to learn about and engage on topics of plant breeding, advanced plant breeding (especially CRISPR technology) and the process and requirements needed to take a scientific concept to a product that is available to the public. The recordings are available on our official IAAS Turkey website.                     

Currently, discussions are ongoing within the Development committee concerning how to strengthen the connection between SIVB and IAAS to open more opportunities to students and to broaden the impact of both. 

If you wish to be part of IAAS please check out the IAAS webpage and choose your country (About Us- Network by order) for more information and contacts in your country of residence. Can’t see your country? This is your opportunity to get started and become involved.  I can only say, that for myself, the combination of my involvement with SIVB and IAAS has been a huge growth and learning opportunity. I highly recommend all students to be involved! 

Together, we connect, learn, communicate, and grow.   

Alperen Öztürk
Student Co-Chair (PB), SIVB
Niğde Ömer Halisdemir University/Turkey

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