Information on Keynote presenter

Lukas Bertschinger, klb Innovation GmbH, Switzerland

HortResearch4Future – How can we respond to societal demand?

Lukas Bertschinger is the founder and managing director of klb innovation: sustainable innovation – knowledge-based decision-making – impact-oriented research, for strengthening the innovative capacity of businesses and research institutions in the agrifood value chain and life science sector. He holds a doctorate in plant sciences from ETH Zürich (Switzerland), a certificate as innovation manager and a CAS in international policy and advocacy. He has careered as a plant scientist and research manager working for CGIAR centers and further for the Swiss public agrifood sector research with a focus on horticulture and sustainable food value chains. As a research manager he engaged in developing new approaches of public-private partnerships and spin-offs and is serving on boards of national and international research institutions. Actually, he is serving as chair of the scientific advisory council of the research center Laimburg (Italy) and as president of the Müller Thurgau Foundation (Switzerland). He is a long-standing member of the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), served as convenor and editor of several ISHS symposia and publishes regularly in ISHS journals.

Bruce Bugbee, Professor of Crop Physiology, Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate, Utah State University, USA

Turning photons into food: On Earth and on Mars

Bruce Bugbee is a professor at Utah State University. He is internationally known for his work with NASA to design food production systems for people living on Mars and has been a frequent speaker at conferences on indoor food production on Earth. He is President of Apogee Instruments, a company that develops unique sensors for agriculture. In 2011 he received the Governors Medal for Science, and in 2016 the Wynne Thorne career research award from Utah State University. He has recorded several videos that summarize the research from his laboratory; search for “bugbee agriculture”. Perhaps his pinnacle achievement is summarizing everything he knows in his TED talk.

Kai Niebert, University of Zurich, Science and Sustainability Education; President of the Environmental Governing Body German Council for Nature Conservation

Science and politics in time of global change?

Georg Petschenka, Chair Applied Entomology, Department of Phyotomedicine, University of Hohenheim, Germany

The insect decline and insect-plant interactions: Perspectives for horticulture

Georg Petschenka studied biology at the Universities of Tübingen and Bayreuth (Germany). In 2010, he received his PhD from the University of Hamburg. After returning from a postdoctoral position at Cornell University (USA) in 2015, he was leading two junior research groups funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG, Emmy Noether-Program) and the State of Hesse (LOEWE) at the University of Giessen. Since March 2020 he has the chair of Applied Entomology at the University of Hohenheim. In 2016, he received the Early-Career-Award from the International Society of Chemical Ecology for his work in the field of insect-plant interactions. Georg Petschenka research focuses on insect resistance against host plant toxins and the evolutionary and ecological implications of the underlying traits.


Stefan Schmitz, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Bonn

Food Forever. Securing Plant Genetic Resources and Healthy Diets for All in Times of Climate Change

Before joining the “Crop Trust” in January 2020, Stefan has been Deputy Director-General at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He also chaired the Steering Committee of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). For more than 10 years, Stefan was leading the food security, agriculture and rural development work at BMZ. From 2007 until 2009 he worked as senior advisor to the Secretariat of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Before joining the BMZ in 2001, Stefan held various posts in the German federal administration in the fields of geographical information systems, regional planning and international cooperation on urban issues. He received scholarships of the McCloy Fellowship of the American Council on Germany and of the German Academic Exchange Service. After studying in Bonn and St. Andrews, he graduated from Bonn University in geography and mathematics and received a PhD in geosciences from the Free University of Berlin in 2000.

Ulrich Schurr, Forschungszentrum Jülich, IBG-2: Plant Sciences

Plant phenotyping across borders: Overcoming technological and structural bottlenecks

Ulrich Schurr studied biology at Bayreuth University and finished his Ph.D. on the “Effect of soil drought on xylem – and phloem transport in Ricinus communis and its importance for root-shoot interaction” in 1991. He joined the laboratory of Prof. Mark Stitt at Heidelberg University and led there a workgroup on plant growth, plant transport and image analysis until 2001. Since 2001 he is director at the Institute for Bio- and Geosciences IBG-2: Plant Sciences ( at Forschungszentrum Jülich and Professor at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf. Uli Schurr is a leading scientist in plant phenotyping: he founded the Jülich Plant Phenotyping Center, initiated and coordinated the German Plant Phenotyping Network (DPPN; ) and the European Plant Phenotyping Network (EPPN/ EPPN2020; ). He chairs the ESFRI project EMPHASIS ( ), which builds a Pan-European plant Phenotyping research infrastructure and he is the chairman of the global International Plant Phenotyping Network (IPPN; ). He has also initiated the Bioeconomy Science Center (BioSC; and leads this long-term project since 2010. Recently, he focussed on the development of the BioeconomyREVIER ( – a project, which aims at building a bioeconomy model region in the region of the Rhineland, which will stop coal mining in the forthcoming years.


Jens Wünsche

University of Hohenheim

Eva Gautsch

Interplan AG

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