Danforth Center Intern Receives Prestigious Fellowship

Danforth Center Announces Summer 2013 Internship Program Participants

ST. LOUIS, MO, May 7, 2013 Donald Danforth Plant Science Center summer 2012 intern, Adam Riesselman, was recently awarded the prestigious Goldwater Fellowship in recognition of his work in Dr. Sona Pandey’s lab.

The goal of the Goldwater Fellowship is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. Competition for the Scholarship is exceptionally intense. Universities are allowed to nominate only four undergraduate students per year. As a result, the scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious awards of its kind in the U.S.

Riesselman’s mentor, Dr. Swarup Roy Choudhury, a post-doc in Dr. Pandey’s lab, managed Adam’s work on the project, Overexpression of an Arabidopsis G-Protein Subunit Causes Morphological Changes in Camelina sativa.

G-proteins have been recently identified to control organ shape and size in plants. I developed  Camelina plants that overexpress AGG3 gene to evaluate its effect on seed and oil yield,” Dr. Choudhury stated about the project, “Adam and I characterized these plants over the course of his summer internship and demonstrated that the enhanced plants indeed have significantly improved yield.”

Dr. Choudhury continues this research in Dr. Pandey’s lab. The study is focused on Camelina sativa and proteins that were found to increase seed size, seed mass, plant height, branch number and size, response to abscisic acid, drought tolerance, and total oil collected per plant. This research can be extrapolated to produce higher yielding oilseed plants that are more drought tolerant.

Riesselman is finishing up his junior year at Drake University studying cell and molecular biology and chemistry and is currently working at DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred in Johnston, Iowa, in the Plant Transformation Facility.

“I greatly developed my academic and laboratory skills during my internship at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center,” Riesselman said, “Not only did I make meaningful contributions to pressing food issues, I also gained vital connections and hands-on experience in the field of plant biology.”

The Danforth Center’s Summer Internship program, funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site award, supports research training for undergraduate students for 11 weeks.  

The program gives students the opportunity to participate in a world-class research environment in the area of plant and life sciences to obtain valuable research skills. In 2012 the Danforth Center expanded its program, raising the total number of students trained through the program to 73.

The highly sought-after summer internship is managed by two Danforth Center Principal Investigators, Dr. Tom Smith and Dr. Sona Pandey. The program gives students experience with all aspects of modern scientific research, from design to experimentation to reporting and provides students with insight into the qualities of a good researcher, the steps to take on the road to becoming a scientist, and the broader implications of scientific discovery. 

Students from universities across the nation are matched with Center scientists. During the first week of the program, interns and mentors will work together to design a project in the areas of cell biology, molecular biology, structural biology, biochemistry, microbiology, chemistry, computational biology, bioinformatics, developmental biology, genetics, genomics, or plant pathology. 

The research component of the Internship program is supplemented with additional educational and training activities including field trips and workshops in proteomics, microscopy and tissue culture and transformation.

This year, the Danforth Center received 164 outstanding applications from a talented group of students from 37 states and two United States territories.   We would like to congratulate the following students that will be participating in the program this summer.

Morgan Clark Western Illinois University Sharnice Johnson
Mississippi Valley State University
Kaitlynn Troxel         
Central Methodist University
Bethany Eason Baylor University Tyler McCann
University of Florida
Paul Tyler
Amherst College
Stephanie GranadaYale University Livingstone Nganga
University of Missouri—St. Louis
Elise Viox
Emory University
Andrew GreenwellTruman State University Erin Rhoads
Johns Hopkins University
Dennis Zhu
University of Missouri —Columbia
Christian HenryHampton University Derrick Smith
Fort Valley State University
Anne Zimmerman
Georgia College and State University
Cynthia Holland        
Henderson State University

For more information about the Center’s Internship program, please visit the Danforth Center’s website.

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Melanie Bernds
Public Relations Manager
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
(314) 587-1647, direct line
(314) 605-6363, mobile
Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter.
www.danforthcenter.org

About The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research at the Danforth Center will feed the hungry and improve human health, preserve and renew the environment, and enhance the St. Louis region and Missouri as a world center for plant science. The Center’s work is funded through competitive grants and contract revenue from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center invites you to visit its new website, www.danforthcenter.org, featuring interactive information on the Center’s scientists, news and research, including the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Institute for Renewable Fuels, the Center for Advanced Biofuel Research, and the National Alliance for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts. Public education outreach, RSS feeds and the brand-new “Roots & Shoots” blog help keep visitors up to date with Center’s current operations and areas of research. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter.

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About The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research at the Danforth Center will feed the hungry and improve human health, preserve and renew the environment, and enhance the St. Louis region and Missouri as a world center for plant science. The Danforth Center’s work is funded through competitive grants and contract revenue from many sources, including the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Howard Buffett Foundation, the Monsanto Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information please visit www.danforthcenter.org, featuring interactive information on the Center’s scientists, news and research. Follow us on Twitter at @DanforthCenter.

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