39 North Innovation District Plan Unveiled
The Science in Our Food
(WIRED) European Ruling Could Slow Africa’s Push For Crispr Crops Many European scientists cheered back in January when it seemed the court of the European Union would ease its restrictions on gene-editing technology in food.
Thursday, July 26, 2018 READ MORE
(St. Louis Public Radio) Brookings touts agtech cluster in St. Louis After two decades of building, the region’s agricultural technology cluster is poised to take off
(EQ) From Science Research To IoT Device Design: Plant Analytics Startup Grows With Arch Grants Dr. Nadia Shakoor is pioneering the future of agriculture and plant research with an IoT-enabled phenotyping and data collection device. She opens up about her debut in the business world.
Thursday, June 28, 2018 READ MORE
(Modern Agriculture) The Future of Food and Farming Agriculture in 2050: Big Challenges, Bigger Dreams
Friday, June 15, 2018 READ MORE
(Innovation City) Dr. Jim Carrington on Innovation City Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion
Tuesday, June 12, 2018 READ MORE
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Banners tout St. Louis County's new 39 North agricultural technology district Banners attached to streetlight poles were added Tuesday along Olive Boulevard for 39 North
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch) Sugarcane research company to open North American headquarters in St. Louis The world’s largest sugarcane technology company selects BRDG Park
Wednesday, May 2, 2018 READ MORE
CTC Genomics selects St. Louis as the site of its North American research headquarters Brazilian Ag Bio Firm Specializes in Sugarcane
(New York Times) How a Rose Blooms: Its Genome Reveals the Traits for Scent and Color Study marks a new “democratization” of plant research resulting from more widely available, affordable and detailed genome sequencing
Monday, April 30, 2018 READ MORE
(St. Louis Business Journal) Danforth Center to take discoveries to market with new hire Don MacKenzie is tasked overseeing the regulatory processes to bring the Danforth Center's technologies to market.
Friday, April 13, 2018 READ MORE
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch) 39 North plant science district gets trail, road planning funds Plans are in motion to rework roads and improve incubator space
Friday, March 2, 2018 READ MORE
(Ag Professional) The Future of Ag Tech in the Midwest
The development of new technology in agriculture has helped encourage young people
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 READ MORE
(Agri-Pulse) Who is leading the charge for new precision breeding tools?
Plenty of precision breeding innovation
(St. Louis Public Radio) St. Louis plant scientists use podcast to dig deep into the struggles of research
Researchers Liz Haswell and Ivan Baxter spend most their time trying to understand how plants function.
Monday, January 8, 2018 READ MORE
(HEC-TV) New Smart Crop-Monitoring Platform Alerts Farmers & Growers About Their Crops
Researchers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center have created a crop phenotyping station called the PheNode.
Wednesday, January 3, 2018 READ MORE
(KMOX) C-Speak Podcast: Sam Fiorello
Mark Reardon talks with Sam Fiorello on the C-Speak Podcast, the language of executives by KMOX
Friday, December 29, 2017 READ MORE
(Talking Biotech Podcast) Control of Aflatoxin in Groundnut
Dilip Shah and a team of researchers worked to devise a multi-faceted plan to protect groundnut from fungal infections.
Saturday, December 23, 2017 READ MORE
(MIT Technology Review) These Are Not Your Father's GMOS
A new wave of gene-edited crops are dodging regulators, and they're about to reach stores.
Thursday, December 21, 2017 READ MORE
New Hire to Advance Human Resources
Danforth Center Welcomes Anna Dibble
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 READ MORE
(Forbes) Collaboration Provides Hope In The Battle Against Mycotoxin Induced Cancer In The Developing World
There is new hope for a solution to this vexing health issue based on a recent collaboration between groups of scientists in the US and in India.
Saturday, November 4, 2017 READ MORE
(AgFunder News) Is St. Louis the Silicon Valley of Agtech?
St. Louis has worked hard to be a magnet for Fortune 500 companies. Nine members of this elite class call the city home, not the least of which is multinational agricultural giant Monsanto.
Thursday, November 2, 2017 READ MORE
DuPont Pioneer and Danforth Center Collaborate to Apply Cutting-Edge Technologies to Improve Crops for Smallholder Farmers
The suite of technologies DuPont Pioneer is providing to the project is revolutionary
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 READ MORE
National Science Foundation Funds Multi-Institutional Project to Improve Harvests of One of the Most Important Crops in U.S. Agriculture
Danforth Center Receives $3.4M to Improve Maize Architecture
Wednesday, October 11, 2017 READ MORE
U.S. Department of Energy Awards Danforth Center $16M to Enhance Sorghum for Bioenergy A multi-institutional research effort aims to optimize photosynthesis and water use efficiency
Monday, October 2, 2017 READ MORE
TechAccel Invests in Unique Sprayable RNAi Pesticide Technology First “Path to Commercialization” Grant Awarded to Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Monday, September 11, 2017 READ MORE
Why a St. Louis event could be one of agtech’s biggest disruptors: 4 questions with Bayer's R&D head
Monday marks the start of the ninth annual Ag Innovation Showcase.
Monday, September 11, 2017 READ MORE
The Future of Agriculture is Center Stage at Ag Innovation Showcase
Bees, new food sources and machine learning are leading trends
Thursday, August 31, 2017 READ MORE
(St. Louis Business Journal) Greitens touts Israeli relationship as economic generator
St. Louis is already home to a number of Israeli-founded companies that have moved to the area thanks to GlobalSTL, an initiative started and organized by BioSTL several years ago.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017 READ MORE
Analysis Linking Field and Controlled Environments Reveals Key Traits Controlling Height
Discovery could help improve yield in food and bioenergy crops
Monday, July 10, 2017 READ MORE
The Danforth Center’s Infographics serve as an additional resource on a variety of topics showcasing data, factual information and detailed visuals.
Danforth Center scientists are regularly interviewed and featured in the media as expert sources on a variety of topics. Read about the Danforth Center in the news. News of their discoveries is regularly highlighted in news releases and in our publications.
The Danforth Center Office of Public Affairs is available to set up interviews with Danforth Center scientists and assist in developing story ideas about their research.
Quick facts about the Danforth Plant Science Center.
Discover more about our research and community.
Brief summary of Danforth Center scientists.
Brief video tours of our facilities.
Roots & Shoots August Guest Blogger, Lee Douangkeomany, Education Outreach Specialist Center for Plant & Life Sciences, St. Louis Community College at BRDG Park
If you ask a farmer, what most contributes to having a good or bad year, they’ll say; “It depends - it could be the seed, it could be the rainfall, or it could be the temperature early in the season.” I was born in Ubon, Thailand. My family farmed rice in Laos and Thailand for generations, and they taught me that successful farming truly depends on a WIDE range of important factors, season after season. Food is a necessity for our existence and while growing up in the restaurant business after we moved to the U.S., it became clear to me that younger generations didn’t understand the source of their food supply due to a huge disconnect between producers and consumers.
I have always been fascinated by science. In school, I competed in independent science fair projects and received awards for my research work. For my favorite science fair project, Which popcorn brand pops the best? I analyzed six different brands of popcorn, carefully studying each, characterizing the unique physiology and morphology of how each kernel popped in accordance to their heat exposure and kinetics – and won first place! I also enjoy solving complex problems so I completed my Bachelor of Science in mathematics, minor in computer science and Bachelor of Arts in management at Webster University.
While visiting rice fields on a trip to Laos and Thailand in 2012, I learned more about the struggles conventional farmers face. My curiosity peaked and I wondered what happens to a developing country and its resources in a bad growing season? How does climate change affect the plants underground, how do microbes live, nourish plants, communicate? I decided to return to school at the St. Louis Community College in 2013, completing a Certificate of Specialization for Life Science Lab Assistant in December 2014 and then the Certificate of Specialization in Biotechnology in May 2016.
At this point, I became very interested in understanding the symbiotic relationship between plants and microbes and how roots interact with the environment to enrich biomass nutrients above ground. That's when I started looking at labs at the Danforth Center that would allow me to combine my skills and education to connect the dots, and try to understand the how what, and why's of plant science.
I joined Dr. Christopher Topp’s laboratory in January 2017 and began studying the hidden half of plants. The Topp lab characterizes the genetic and environmental factors that influence plant root growth in various crops to understand the relationship between genotype and phenotype for valuable agricultural traits. I worked as a part-time lab assistant performing root imaging/processing using semi-optical CT scan, sampling of maize roots/shoots, data collection, computational analysis, and using molecular biology to conduct experiments. During my time at the Topp Lab, I also had the opportunity to participate in the Danforth Center’s 2017 November Conversation Series, competing in Big Ideas: Meeting Grand Challenges. Our team developed an idea for an analytic software using the language of mathematics to convert complex data collected from plants into simple and specific recommendations for farmers and breeders.
To improve my communication and networking skills, I joined OCA Mentoring Asian Americans Professionals (MAAP) program. I wanted to utilize the skills I developed during my time with MAAP to speak about my passions in the STEM field. The following year, I was recruited to serve on the board for OCA St. Louis chapter as Vice President of Membership.
For science outreach, I developed and designed lesson plans that focused on root biology to engage all levels of learners at the Root Demo at the GROW exhibition at the St. Louis Science Center - which was a big hit with educators from all over town!
Eager to understand how microbes interact with the complex networks underground, I joined the Blodgett laboratory at Washington University Department of Biology as a full-time Research Technician II in December 2017, learning about synthetic biology, microbiology, and biotechnology. I worked on multiple research projects for Streptomyces (bacteria responsible for the “earthy soil smell”) screening with intergeneric conjugation, genetic engineering gene clusters for specific chemical compounds of interests, and investigating novel small molecule inhibitors against Pseudogymnoascus destructans, also known as the white nose syndrome that is responsible for the killing millions of bats around the world.
Six months later, an opportunity to combine my passion for STEM outreach, education, and research became available and in May 2018, I joined the Center for Plant & Life Science with St. Louis Community College at BRDG Park as an Outreach Education Specialist. In this role, I plan, organize, and facilitate hands-on activities and present lesson plans for summer camps, workshops, on- and off-sites visits for schools on biotechnology topics centering on plant and life sciences. The audience includes middle/high school students, teachers, professionals, and the community at large.
“I met Lee before she was even in the Biotechnology Program here! Her passion and enthusiasm for science make her the perfect new addition to our team at the Center! In her short time with us, she has already exceeded expectations, managing to pull off high school and middle school workshops, soon to be followed by a Teachers Workshop in August! She is a wonderful addition and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next,” said Betsy Boedeker, BioBench CRO Coordinator, St. Louis Community College at BRDG Park.
As an education outreach specialist, I am able to use my creativity and prior math education background to bring my love for research and discovery to science outreach. My teaching philosophy centers on having a growth mindset, inspired learning, and ongoing mentorship. My storytelling derives from personal and professional experiences to build a bridge to connect missing gaps of learning while fostering a bond with my students that is relatable, memorable, and meaningful.
On Saturday, July 21, 2018, at the OCA National Convention in Washington, D.C., I was truly honored and humbled to be selected by OCA National as the 2018 Unsung Hero Award presented by Buick. In the spirit of volunteerism and advocacy, attendees learned about the significant and inspiring contributions each Unsung Hero has made to their communities.
I aspire to connect the dots from the microbe to the globe in my journey at 39 North and it has just begun. I will continue to further my education at Webster University this fall for my Masters of Science in Data Analytics. I hope to continually inspire students and empower generations, young and old, with knowledge and opportunities to make impactful changes in the world.
Conversation Series: Big Ideas - Meeting Grand Challenges
Center for Plant & Life Sciences,
OCA MAAP Program, https://www.ocanational.org/maap-1/ OCA National Headquarters, http://www.ocanational.org OCA National Unsung Heroes, https://ocanationalconvention.org/gala-awards-dinner/ OCA St. Louis, http://www.oca-stl.org
| STEM OutreachSt. Louis Community CollegeeducationChris ToppBRDG Park39 North