2015 Walter and Helen Parke Loomis Symposium

February 22, 2015

Thank you to all who attended the 2015 Loomis Lecture and IPB Minisymposium. We hope to see you at the 2016 Loomis Symposium!



2015 Interdepartmental Plant Biology Symposium 

Theme: “Plant Synthetic Biology"

Click here for the flyer

May 1, 2015

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM (view the full schedule here)

Memorial Union, Iowa State University

Organized by: 
Interdepartmental Plant Biology Major (IPB) Graduate Program

Sponsored by:


DuPont Pioneer


Monsanto Company

Iowa State Plant Sciences Institute



You can read a detailed history of the Loomis Symposium here.

Loomis Lecturer:

Photograph of Dr Jim Haseloff

Dr. Jim Haseloff (University of Cambridge)

Haseloff is a leader in plant synthetic biology, an emerging field that employs engineering principles to construct new genetic systems. The approach is based on the use of well-characterized and reusable DNA components, and numerical models for the design of biological circuits. Plants possess indeterminate and modular body plans, have a wide spectrum of biosynthetic activities, can be genetically manipulated, and are widely used in crop systems for production of biomass, food, polymers, drugs and fuels.




Other Symposium Speakers:

Photograph of Dr Hugh S. Mason

Dr. Hugh Mason (Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University)

The Mason Lab is engaged in the development of plants as a platform for the production of pharmaceutical proteins. Because the use of such agents would be in the service of public health, the cost of production is an important component of their development. The use of plant biotechnology is one possible way to cost-effectively produce subunit vaccines. One system developed by Mason and coworkers is a geminiviral replicon system to produce Ebola immune complexes (EIC) in tobacco.




Photograph of Dr. June Medford

Dr. June Medford (Department of Biology, Colorado State University)

The Medford Lab uses synthetic biology to redesign plants with useful traits and answer fundamental questions about natural processes. At its heart, synthetic biology differs from genetic engineering in its use of mathematical analysis, modeling, and orthogonal genetic parts to produce organisms with specialized functions. Medford and coworkers have developed ligand-responsive signal transduction system in plants that can be used to monitor pollutants, explosives, or chemical agents.




Photograph of Dr. Anne Osbourn

Dr. Anne Osbourn (John Innes Centre)

The Osbourn lab investigates plant-derived natural products -function, synthesis, and mechanisms of metabolic diversification, particularly focused on terpenes. An important advance from Osbourn lab has been the discovery that genes for specialized metabolic pathways are organized in ‘operon-like’ clusters in plant genomes, a finding that has opened up new opportunities for pathway discovery through genome mining, metabolic engineering and synthetic biology.