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SIPS graduate students honored by ASPB and CSSA

-Magdalen Lindeberg

SIPS graduate students Ann Bybee-Finley (Soil and Crop Sciences), Hannah Thomas (Plant Biology), and Kate Harline (Plant Biology) have been named as 2018 recipients of awards from the Crop Science Society of America and American Society of Plant Biologists.

Ann Bybee-Finley

Bybee-Finley, recipient of the Crop Science Graduate Student Scholarship, is a student with Matt Ryan, agroecologist in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section, conducting research on sustainable cropping systems. As described in the CSSA announcement, her dissertation entails modeling crop competition, crop diversification, a multi-year/multi-state organic cropping systems experiment, and interviews with New York dairy farmers. She believes that humans are a part of nature and that scientists’ values and beliefs shape the type of research they perform. Ann wishes that ‘nutritional security’ rather than ‘production’ becomes the framing for field crops research as it better links human health to agriculture. She holds degrees in Biochemistry, International Development, and Agronomy and has worked at CIMMYT in Mexico, Imperial College in England, a UN refugee camp in Ghana, and with a soil-testing agribusiness in Bangladesh. Her work on social-ecological systems suggests cropping systems that rely on ecological intensification, fewer external inputs, and increasing soil health are more resilient to extreme weather events.

The Crop Science Graduate Student Scholarship is provided to a meritorious graduate student in crop science. The scholarship is supported by gifts from the Gerald O. Mott family to the Agronomic Science Foundation and administered by the Crop Science Society of America. The award will be presented during the upcoming CSSA Annual Meeting to be held in early November in Baltimore, MD.

Kate Harline
Kate Harline

Thomas and Harline have been named ASPB Conviron Scholars by the American Society of Plant Biologists. Harline is PhD student in the research program of Adrienne Roeder, developmental biologist in the Plant Biology Section and Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology. Harline’s research integrates developmental decision-making in the model plant Arabidopsis, synthetic biology and computational modeling.

Harline graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Biology–Biochemistry with minors in computer science and ballet. There she pursued research interests as diverse as microbiology, ecology and structural biochemistry before honing in on her true passion for plant biology. She enjoys working with collaborators outside of plant biology to discover the deep mechanistic similarities across the tree of life that inspire her. She hopes that the foundational mechanisms she works on will translate into sustainable agricultural solutions for the future. She also hopes to have an impact on her community through outreach activities including yearly science workshops she designs and hosts for aspiring women and minorities in STEM.

Hannah Thomas

SIPS’ other ASPB Conviron Scholar is Hannah Thomas, a PhD student in the program of Margaret Frank in the Plant Biology and Horticulture Sections where she studies the trafficking of small RNA in grafted fruit crops. Thomas is working on understanding the factors which influence long-distance RNA mobility, by utilizing grafting as a key tool. She also has a strong interested in under-investigated tropical crops like cacao and coffee.

Thomas graduated from Pittsburg State University in Kansas and took part in a NSF-REU with Blake Meyers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center where she was introduced to the world of plant small RNAs.  As a graduate student, Thomas has placed an important emphasis on science communication. She has taken part in Cornell – CommSciCon and volunteers at the local Free Science Workshop for minority youths. As a program coordinator for the Tokyo University of Ag and Tech Exchange Program, she organized a town-hall style event where 20 participants from 8 different countries were able to create engaging presentations and present them to real audiences the Ithaca community. She is currently working to build new projects in the Cornell graduate school community as well as engage with local schools. Science outreach will remain an important aspect of her scientific career in the future as well.

The ASPB Conviron Scholars Program delivers an experience intended to serve as a foundation for a career in plant science. Scholars receive a 1-year membership in ASPB, virtual mentoring, and a hands-on virtual learning program. Jen Schmidt, a PhD student in Beth Ahner’s program in Biological and Environmental Engineering with minors in plant biology and genetics has also been named a 2018 ASPB Scholar.

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