eFLOWER Summer School Down Under (2020)

Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney, Australia; 1-10 April 2020

This is a pre-announcement. Register your interest here: https://forms.gle/7sCVAH5CeUPKi6qX6

Background on the eFLOWER project and Summer Schools

The eFLOWER project is a long-term international initiative to answer key questions in the evolution of flowers in angiosperms (flowering plants), led by Hervé Sauquet (Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Australia), Jürg Schönenberger and Maria von Balthazar (University of Vienna, Austria), and Susana Magallón (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico). At the heart of the project is a collaborative database named PROTEUS. The first eFLOWER Summer School organized at the University of Vienna in July 2013 had allowed 18 students and postdocs from 12 countries to help us build a very large dataset of floral traits in PROTEUS, ultimately leading to the publication of a first paper in 2017 presenting a new model for the ancestral flower of all angiosperms. The second eFLOWER Summer School was held at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Upperville, Virginia (USA) in September 2018, attracting 15 students from 7 countries. While it allowed us to continue building an expanded version of the eFLOWER dataset for future studies, the Oak Spring School also had a strong teaching component, which proved very successful.

Goals and program of the Summer School

The goal of the eFLOWER Summer School Down Under will be to deliver high-quality training in the modern comparative methods used to study plant macroevolution, while at the same time offering the students the opportunity to contribute to future targets of the eFLOWER project. The Summer School will be structured around the alternation of ‘Data Days’ and ‘Analytical Days’ (four each). Each Data Day, we will focus on recording floral and fossil data for selected groups of flowering plants in PROTEUS. Each Analytical Day will address a specific methodological topic, including ancestral state reconstruction of morphological traits (using maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods), divergence time estimation using molecular dating methods (relaxed clock methods, fossil calibration), and diversification rates and state-dependent diversification. In addition, each day will also feature a seminar talk, usually before lunch, and each student will give a flash talk on their own research project in sessions scheduled before dinner. Seminar talks (open to the public) will be given by the organizers and invited speakers from Australia. The School will be held at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the University of New South Wales. The School will be broken in two halves separated by a weekend in the Blue Mountains, including a visit to the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah.

Target participants and selection process

The 15 students will be selected on the basis of a competitive call for applicants, which will be circulated on 1st October 2019, with an application deadline set to 1st December 2019 (all applicants will be notified by 21st December 2019). Our preferred target audience for this School will be PhD and master’s students. As in previous events, we will aim at a good gender and diversity balance among the final set of selected participants.

Funding

Thanks to financial support from the New Phytologist Trust, this event will be free to all selected participants (i.e., no registration fee), as in both previous eFLOWER Summer Schools. We are currently seeking additional support to cover accommodation and part of transportation expenses for all participants. If you wish to sponsor this event, please do not hesitate to contact the organizers.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith