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Plant Sciences Majors showcase ePortfolios

-Magdalen Lindeberg

Students majoring in Plant Sciences and enrolled in PLSCI 1110 presented their ePortfolios on October 4 at an afternoon open house in 404 Plant Science. PLSCI 1110 “Collaboration, Leadership, and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences”, taught by Marvin Pritts and Leah Cook, provides students with opportunities to meet other students and faculty associated with the Plant Sciences Major; develop collaboration, leadership, and career skills in the discipline; and make connections with the world beyond the campus.  Thirty-eight students are currently enrolled in the class.

Plant Sciences Majors Mable Orhiekhoe, Ally Hermanson, and Ileana Katzman

Students at the Thursday event come to the Plant Sciences Major from diverse backgrounds and shared their excitement at being in a place where people are so passionate about plants. Alice Gevorgyan was one of many students interested in plant breeding and plant genetic modification. A native of San Carlos CA, Gevorgyan learned about Cornell after hearing an interview with Susan McCouch on the “Talking Biotech” podcast. Several also expressed interest in plants and human health including Josh Rauch, a sophomore who recently changed his major to Plant Sciences. Other transfers include Ally Hermanson, a San Diego native who transferred to Cornell from Virginia Tech, and James Cagle, a transfer student from Finger Lakes Community College. Cagle decided to pursue college after several years of farming where he was inspired by his interactions with extension educators.  He is interested in plant pathology, breeding, and physiology. Many of the students expressed enthusiasm about the research opportunities available to them at Cornell. Cagle is working in the programs of Matt Ryan and Rebecca Nelson. Danielle Sonnenleiter, a freshman interested in plant genetic modification, is working in the Plant Transformation Facility.

ePortfolios function as an online curriculum vitae, capturing student training, experiences and interests using a variety of media. Students in the Plant Science Major are required to add to their ePortfolios throughout their course of study, including information on courses, papers, and projects, a reflection on an out-of-class experience, seminar summaries, and research experience where relevant. Each student’s final portfolio is presented to their faculty advisor to show that learning objectives have been achieved.

According to Cook, one of the main goals of PPLSCI 1110 is to build a sense of community among the students before they move through the core curriculum together. Students reflected that the process of creating ePortfolios was useful for reflecting on what they had done and identifying areas in need of attention.

James Cagle talks with SIPS faculty member Kathie Hodge
Alice Gevorgyan and Sonia Lulla share their ePortfolios with SIPS faculty member Klaas van Wijk

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