In February, 35 graduate students were chosen to compete for the Vice President for Research Fellowship. Their goal, to completely convey the essence and most important findings of their research. Their time limit, 3 minutes. Their motivation was a $4,000 scholarship for school and travel support for their research.
14 student came away with the prestigious VPR Fellowship, as well as opportunities to participate in professional development workshops as well as mentorship, leadership, and engagement opportunities within the next year. Two of these students belong to BSPM!
Lisa Mason, VPR Fellow representing the College of Agricultural Sciences 3 Minute Presentation: “To Bee or Not to Bee: An Urban Ecology Question”
Lisa Mason achieved her undergraduate degree through CSU in Forestry Biology and Performing Arts, she currently does research in the Pollinator Lab and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Entomology. Along with being an outreach Forester for the Colorado State Forest Service, she is studying bee diversity and abundance in urban areas. She started ‘Native Bee Watch,’ an observational data citizen science program. Her intention was to look at the efficacy in citizen science for long-term pollinator monitoring and how urban areas may affect bee species diversity and abundance.
“I aspire to strengthen pollinator conservation protocols and disseminate my research findings through public education and citizen science”
Grey Monroe, VPR Fellow representing the Graduate Program in Ecology 3 Minute Presentation: “Using Nature to Nurture: Uncovering the Evolution of Drought Tolerance in Wild Plants”
Extreme climate events such as drought are among the leading causes of crop loss worldwide. As a PhD student in BSPM in the lab of John McKay, Grey investigates the biology, genetic basis, and evolution of adaptation to climate extremes in wild plants. For his three-minute thesis talk, described his recent work using remotely sensed drought frequencies to investigate the evolution of drought tolerance traits and identify drought tolerance genes in a wild plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana. This work has yielded insight into fundamental evolutionary processes and information that may be valuable for breeders working to mimic natural drought tolerance strategies in crops.
“By studying natural populations, my work aims to understand the mechanisms by which natural selection has produced plants adapted to extreme climates.”
Sarah Miller, VPR Competitor representing the Department of Bioagricultural Science and Pest Management 3 Minute Presentation: “Water & Plants: A Delicate Balance”
Sarah Miller, a Graduate candidate in Dr. Courtney Jahn’s Lab, received the USDA NIFA pre-doctoral fellowship to explore plant traits that contribute towards making plants drought tolerant, helping to further the development of water-wise crops. For her thesis challenge, she discussed her findings on how plants physically respond to water stress. Since plants cannot move in search of water, they often reduce their leaf areas under water stress to decrease the amount of water lost through evapotranspiration. However, this also means that they limit the amount of energy they can produce to live. Sarah measured the magnitude of this reduction in leaf area in the model plant, Sorghum bicolor, and found that varieties with moderate reductions in their leaf areas under water stress were better able to return to normal growth when they were watered again. These water-stressed varieties were also able to yield the same amount of grain that would be produced in a well-watered environment.
“My goal is to pursue a career in sustainable agriculture where I will teach future generations about sustainable agricultural practices.”
Theresa Barosh, VPR Competitor representing the Department of Bioagricultural Science and Pest Management 3 Minute Presentation: “A Gall is like a Hotel Room”
As a PhD candidate in Dr. Paul Ode’s lab researching biological control of Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens), plant-insect interactions fascinate Theresa Barosh. Working with two gall-forming insects that share Russian knapweed as a host plant, Theresa addresses plant-mediated interactions in relation to weed management. Theresa works with a number of researchers, land managers, and private land owners to determine how nonnative species introductions impact ecological communities.
“I’m part of a meaningful community of people that work together and communicate with one another to develop a more full understanding of what is happening when plants invade and how we can best manage invaded communities.”