Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Center for Genetic Medicine

Can Genetic Technologies Advance Sustainable Agriculture? Perspectives from Research and the Farm


The Center for Genetic Medicine of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine welcomes you to attend the Silverstein Lecture Series on May 2 (Chicago) and May 3 (Evanston), featuring Pamela Ronald, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis and coauthor of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food and Jennie Schmidt, MS, RD, farmer at Schmidt Farms Inc. and a Registered Dietician.

Professor Ronald will discuss one of the greatest challenges of our time: how to feed the world’s growing population without further destroying the environment. She’ll describe the approaches that  geneticists are using to help meet this challenge. 

Jennie will discuss the current landscape of US agriculture and family farms, the farming systems they choose to use and how agricultural systems and technologies contribute to moving US family farms along the sustainability continuum.


Silverstein Lecture Series
CampusDateTimeLocation
ChicagoWednesday, May 26:00 - 7:00pm

Baldwin Auditorium
Robert H. Lurie Medical Research Center (map)
303 E. Superior Street, Chicago

EvanstonThursday, May 36:00 - 7:00pm

Abbott Auditorium
Pancoe Life Sciences Pavilion (map)
2200 Campus Drive, Evanston

Parking is available at the North Parking Garage (map). Parking is free and does not require a permit after 4:00pm. View walking route from garage to venue.


The events are free and open to the public. A reception with the speakers follows. Please note: general seating is first come, first served; please plan to arrive early.




Pamela Ronald, PhD, is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis. She serves as founding Director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at UC Davis. She is a visiting Professor in Stanford’s Center for Food Security and the Environment.

Ronald received a B.A. from Reed College, an M.S. from Stanford University, an M.S. from Uppsala University, Sweden and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1990. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University from 1990–1992 in the Plant Breeding Department. In 1992, Prof. Ronald joined UC Davis.

Ronald and collaborators have isolated genes that control the rice response to infection and tolerance to stress. Her research has been published in Science, Science Advances, Nature and other leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, and has also been featured in The New York Times, Organic Gardening Magazine, Forbes Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Progressive Farmer, Discover Magazine, The Scientist, Popular Mechanics, National Public Radio, the BBC, and National Geographic.

Ronald and colleagues received the 2008 USDA National Research Initiative Discovery Award for their research on rice submergence tolerance. Ronald is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She is the recipient of the 2012 Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Journalism Award, and the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2011, Ronald was selected as one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company Magazine.Ronald and colleagues received the Tech Award 2012 for innovative use of technology to benefit humanity. In 2014 she was named one of the world’s most influential scientific minds by Thomson Reuters. In 2015 she was selected by Scientific American as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology. In 2016 she was named by Grist magazine as one of the 50 innovators and visionaries who will lead us toward a more sustainable future.

Ronald is co-author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. Bill Gates calls the book “ a fantastic piece of work" and "important for anyone that wants to learn about the science of seeds and challenges faced by farmers. In 2012, Tomorrow’s Table was selected by The New Earth Archive as one of the 25 most powerful and influential books with the power to inspire college readers to change the world. Her 2015 TED talk has been viewed by more than 1.5 million people and translated into 24 languages.



Jennifer Schmidt, MS, RD, lives on a family farm with her husband and two children. Schmidt Farms is a third generation, large and diverse family farm, including grains, vegetables, hay and wine grapes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

When she’s not found on a tractor, Jennie spends her time as an “Ag-vocate”, telling the story of agriculture and family farming to consumers, dietitians, and legislators. She is active on social media and with “CommonGround”, a volunteer farm women’s group dedicated to sharing authentic and transparent stories about food and farming.

Jennie is the first female President of the Maryland Grain Producers board of directors and represents Maryland on the National Barley Growers Association. She is passionate about connecting people with food and farming and highlighting the importance of family farming in our food supply.

Jennie holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition and International Agriculture from the University of Massachusetts and completed her Master of Science degree at the University of Delaware in Human Nutrition with a focus on Food and Agricultural Biotechnology.



The lecture is presented by the Center for Genetic Medicine with support from the Herman M. and Bea L. Silverstein Medical Research Fund for Genetic Medicine.