Biochemistry of plant defense against aphids, cider orchard management, and the significance of fungal DNAase enzymes – these were some of the many topics addressed during the Undergraduate Symposium presented by fifteen Plant Science majors on May 11. A research or extension experience is required of all Plant Sciences majors culminating with enrollment in the capstone course PLSCI 4950, where students learn strategies for presenting scientific content to professional and lay audiences. They also practice shaping their research/extension experience into a coherent, engaging story, presented as a ten minute PowerPoint presentation during the symposium. In addition to the speakers, five students gave poster presentations.
Grant Thompson, recipient of the Sellew Family Fellowship for 2017-2018, presented first, with a talk on “Reflections on mentoring: A learning laboratory for grads and undergrads”. Co-presenter Michelle Chen, an undergraduate working with Thompson in the research program of Jenny Kao-Kniffin, described the value of learning about the research process and perspective on life in graduate school. Thompson, who will be starting an assistant professorship at Iowa State this fall, credits his experience as a mentor and the Sellew Family Fellowship as significant factors in his successful job search.