Initial Publication Date: August 20, 2014

American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB)

ASPB has 4,500 members from all over the world.
Education Coordinator: Katie Engen,

The American Society of Plant Biologists was founded in 1924 to promote the growth and development of plant biology, to encourage and publish research in plant biology, and to promote the interests and growth of plant scientists in general. Over the decades the Society has evolved and expanded to provide a forum for molecular and cellular biology, genetics, development, evolution, physiology, and biochemistry. ASPB publishes the highly cited and respected journals Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell. Membership spans six continents and ASPB plays a key role in uniting the international plant science disciplines. Our members work in such diverse areas as academia, government laboratories, and industrial and commercial environments. The Society also has a large student membership.

Premier Contribution to Faculty Development

ASPB Master Educator Program

Established in 2014 after a pilot cycle, the Master Educator Program (MEP) is for ASPB members interested in focused, substantive, and practical professional development with the aim of developing undergraduate plant biology instructional materials in tandem with a mentor experienced with active learning. Examples include case study teaching, process oriented guided inquiry learning, and problem-based learning. The materials must be aligned with the recommendations of Vision and Change and ASPB's core concepts in plant biology ( Successful applicants will receive up to $3500 for registration/travel costs for professional development sessions and ASPB annual meeting attendance. Applicants can select from the multi-day professional development sessions suggested by ASPB or propose another program that aligns with Vision and Change recommendations.

Additional Undergraduate Education Activities of ASPB

Vision and Change Initiatives

ASPB has been active in the Vision and Change movement since 2007. Recent outcomes include:

Education and Outreach at ASPB Annual Meetings

ASPB's Education Committee sponsors an education and outreach booth at the annual meeting which includes resources for teaching plant biology to K-16+ students and sharing plant science with the general public. A core of these materials focuses on supporting students, postdocs and faculty involved with higher education. The committee also runs a mini-symposium dedicated to discipline-based education research which represents a portion of such abstracts submitted for posters and presentations each year. The annual Education Workshop features expert speakers on timely, research-based elements of faculty development. Recent topics include:

  • The "Flipped" Classroom Teaching Strategy (2014)
  • Backward Design: an application of Vision and Change principles (2013)
  • Case Study Teaching - engaging students in plant biology problem solving (2012)
  • Crafting Successful Education and Outreach Grant Proposals (2011)

Other ASPB committees fund travel awards, science communication, networking and career development events that focus on or are highly inclusive of undergraduates and the faculty who guide them at both large research and primarily undergraduate institutions.

Mentoring in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

While designed for undergraduate students to enhance their understanding of and motivation for a career in plant biology research, this program requires a faculty mentor. ASPB mentors consistently report that this role is integral to enriching their overall scholarship goals. In fact, a 2014 HHMI Professor from ASPB notes that his work as a SURF mentor contributed significantly to his undergraduate education expertise.

Active Learning Resources for working with undergraduates or for assisting undergraduates as they share plant biology with other audiences are available here: Of particular interest is the program to involve undergraduates and advanced high school students with primary literature, see for more information.