Plant Friends or Foes: A Success Story

For the second year in a row, a summer intern from Virginia State University working in the Tumlinson lab has presented an award-winning lecture in the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (ERN) in Washington, DC on the research they conducted during their summer at Penn State and which they continued at VSU. Under our guidance the students develop a research plan and experimental design here at Penn State and acquire the methods necessary to successfully continue their research at VSU. In February, 2018, Sheevah Amen won first place in the biological sciences division for her presentation, "Does the insect gut microbiome affect plant volatile release?". In March, 2017, Mekiya Fletcher, from VSU won 2nd place in the Ecology and Environmental Science division for her oral presentation “Plants stink but how do they smell?”. Both students participated in the Penn State SROP program with fellowships provided by a USDA/NIFA grant, “Plant Friends and Foes”. These students were advised and mentored by Prof. Sarah Melissa Witiak (a former Penn State graduate in Ecological and Molecular Plant Physiology) at VSU and by Dr. Irmgard Seidl-Adams in the Tumlinson lab at Penn State. Since graduating from VSU, Mekiya Fletcher was accepted into the post-baccalaureate research education program (PREP) for minority students at the University of South Carolina and started her studies in July 2017. The Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Education and Human Resources Programs (EHR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), within the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). The conference is aimed at college and university undergraduate and graduate students who participate in programs funded by the NSF HRD Unit, including underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities.