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.

Anke Kwast, VP Climate Neutrality Roadmap at Yara International

How to decarbonize the Food Chain 

Anke Kwast, VP Climate Neutrality Roadmap at Yara International studied Horticultural Science at University Hannover, Germany before she joined Yara 32 years ago. Within Farming Solution, a unit driving the transformation of Yara, she is heading a team providing decision support and governance for Yara’s Climate Neutrality Roadmap to become Climate Neutral and to contribute to the Decarbonization of the Food Chain in a sustainable and profitable manner. She brings 31 year of experience in Crop Nutrition & Sustainability R&D with a broad foundation of expertise. Before she focused on climate neutrality, she was VP Crop Nutrition R&D in Yara (2013 – 8/2020) leading an international and interdisciplinary research team of 80 employees at different locations in Europe, Brazil and Africa to develop profitable and sustainable solutions for nutrient and water management in agriculture. Her unit managed several research projects in Food Chain Partnerships covering a wide range of crops, environments and practices to improve the overall performance and sustainability of the food value chain addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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?

Kai Niebert is a sustainability researcher at the University of Zurich. 2010 he has earned his PhD with research on everyday conceptions on climate change at the University of Hannover. After spending his PostDoc time at Curtin University (Australia) and Penn State University (USA) 2012 he became professor for science and sustainability communication at the Leuphana University on Lueneburg and 2014 he moved to Zurich. He received several awards for his research and teaching. Since 2015 Kai is president of the German League for Nature (DNR), the network of 11 million people engaged for the environment. Kai was member of the coalcommission in Germany and is now member of the Zukunftskommission Landwirtschaft and the Bioeconomy council of the German government.  

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.


Holger Puchta, Botanical Institute, Chair Plant Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

CRISPR/Cas revolution in plant breeding – a game changer for horticulture?

Holger Puchta is professor of molecular biology and director of the Botanical Institute at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. After PhD at the Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry in Munich he worked as postoc at the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel, Switzerland and as group leader at the Leibnitz Institute for Plant Genetics in Gatersleben (IPK). He was worldwide the first scientist to demonstrate that site-specific nucleases can be applied to induce different kinds of controlled change in plant genomes. His group elucidated major mechanisms of DNA double strand break repair and he was one of leading scientist adopting the CRISPR/Cas technology to plants. For his work on genome engineering he was nominated “Pioneer of Plant Biotechnology” by the Plant Biotechnology Journal and awarded twice with an ERC advanced grant. A recent focus of his research centers around CRISPR/Cas mediated plant chromosome engineering.

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

Dr. Stefan Schmitz joined the Crop Trust as Executive Director in January 2020. Prior to his current role, Stefan was Deputy Director-General and Commissioner for the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and chaired the Steering Committee of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

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

Jana Reichel 

Interplan AG

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