Keynote speakers

Simon Stael started his studies in the University of Ghent, Belgium, and finished his Master’s thesis in 2007 in Turku, Finland, in the lab of Prof. Eva-Mari Aro. This kick-started his interest in stress acclimation in plants. Thereafter, he did a PhD thesis in Vienna, Austria, on the ‘Discovery of organellar calcium signaling components in Arabidopsis thaliana’ in the Marie-Curie Initial Training Network ‘COSI’ (Chloroplast Signals) under the supervision of Dr. Markus Teige. From 2012 he is back in Ghent for some more discovery with a focus on substrate proteins of metacaspases, with the aim to modulate programmed cell death in Arabidopsis thaliana during pathogen stress. This project is shared between the groups of Prof. Kris Gevaert (VIB Department of Medical Protein Research) and Prof. Frank Van Breusegem. You can read one of his most recent contributions here: Hander et al. 2019. Science. (

Luis Herrera‐Estrella is recognized worldwide for his pioneering work on Agrobacterium‐mediated plant genetic transformation and his influential contributions to our understanding of gene expression in crops coping with a continuously changing, often stressful environment. Luis’ contributions have been recognized by numerous awards and distinctions over the years, including the 2002 National Prize from the Government of Mexico, the Trieste Science Prize in 2007, the 2008 Leadership in Science Public Service Award of the American Society of Plant Physiologists and a nomination in 2015 as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology by the popular science magazine Scientific American. Luis is an elected member of the Latin American Academy of Sciences, of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, of the Third World Academy of Sciences, of the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas and of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He currently is President’s Distinguished Professor of Plant Genomics and Director of the Center for Functional Genomics of Abiotic Stress at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. For many years, he served as the Director of the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Guanajuato, Mexico, where he now holds the position of Professor Emeritus (