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ASPB awards 15 summer undergraduate research fellowships

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) has named the recipients of its 2011 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) awards. The SURF program assists promising undergraduate students so they can conduct meaningful plant biology research early in their college careers. Mentoring is a key element of the program, and a solid mentoring plan is an important part of proposal; SURF students must work with a mentor who is an ASPB member.

In honoring the recipients, ASPB President Nicholas Carpita said, "As we start our second decade of ASPB's hugely successful SURF awards program, I congratulate not only the awardees but also the drive and dedication of its great mentors."

In addition to promoting undergraduate research in plant science, the fellowships support each SURF student's presentation of a poster at ASPB's annual meeting in the year following the research project. As such, the students listed below will conduct their research this summer and present their findings at Plant Biology 2012, which will be held July 20󈞄, 2012, in Austin, Texas.

Amy Clore, who cochairs the SURF program with Kenneth Helm, explained that, "by funding these students, all of whom have incredible potential, ASPB hopes to directly contribute to the next generation of plant biologists."

SURF proposals are reviewed in two separate categories, research universities and primarily undergraduate institutions. Of the 115 undergraduate applicants, fifteen undergraduates were selected as SURF recipients and five received honorable mentions.

Last year's SURF recipients will present posters at Plant Biology 2011, August 6󈝶, 2011, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Applications for next year's SURF competition will open in late 2011.

A list of the awardees, their mentors, and project titles follow.


Matthew Bedewitz, Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan)
Mentor: Cornelius Barry, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Michigan State University
"Development of a functional genomics platform for exploring tropane alkaloid biosynthesis in Atropa belladonna"

Kristina Chun, University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, California)
Mentor: Joseph P. Noel, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Professor and Director, The Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology and Proteomics, Salk Institute for Biology Studies; Adjunct Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego
"Identification of functional protein 'sectors': Statistical coupling analysis of the terpene synthase family"

Karina Friman, University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)
Mentor: Alisa Huffaker, Research Molecular Biologist, Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
"Role of AtPep6 as a signal in Arabidopsis thaliana"

Laura Gates, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Mentor: Alice Y. Cheung, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
"Developmental regulation of pollen tube reception in Arabidopsis"

Jonathan Hermann, Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)
Mentor: Joseph M. Jez, Associate Professor of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis
"Biochemical and structure analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana GH3.10/DFL2: Defining its role in jasmonate or auxin regulation"

David Higgins, North Carolina State University (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Mentor: Robert G. Franks, Assistant Professor of Genetics and Associate Member of Plant Biology, North Carolina State University
"Investigation of carpel margin meristem (CMM) development in Arabidopsis thaliana"

Hung-Hsueh (Helen) Lai, University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)
Mentor: Keiko Torii, Professor of Biology and Affiliate Faculty, Institute of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, University of Washington
"Functional analysis of EPFL family as signaling ligands in Arabidopsis"

Taylor Lloyd, University of Kentucky (Lexington, Kentucky)
Mentor: A. Bruce Downie, Associate Professor of Horticulture, University of Kentucky
"Using phage display and biopanning to examine the diversity of seed proteins associating with a LEA protein at supraoptimal germination temperatures"

Amanda Miller, University of WisconsinMadison (Madison, Wisconsin)
Mentor: Simon Gilroy, Professor of Botany, University of WisconsinMadison
"Role of calcium signaling in the adaptation to low-oxygen stress in Arabidopsis"

Jesse Pyle, Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas)
Mentor: Karen-Beth G. Scholthof, Professor of Plant Pathology & Microbiology, Texas A&M University
"Analysis of the phosphorylated SPMV capsid protein and its biological significance"

James Thierer, University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, Maryland)
Mentors: Caren Chang, Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, College Park and Charles Delwiche, Professor of Cell Biology & Molecular Genetics, University of Maryland, College Park
"Search for ancestral plant hormone pathways in Charophyte algae"

Katherine Walsh, University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Massachusetts)
Mentor: Magdalena Bezanilla, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
"The role of GAPs, GEFs, and GDIs in regulating tip growth"


Timothy Godfrey, Grand Valley State University (Allendale, Michigan)
Mentor: Sheila Blackman, Associate Professor of Biology, Grand Valley State University
"Identification and surveillance of the LEA proteins in Orchidaceae"

Josef Jareczek, Bellarmine University (Louisville, Kentucky)
Mentor: David Lowell Robinson, Professor of Biology, Bellarmine University
"Nitrogen-fixing endophyte population in local plant species and re-infection effects in non-natural hosts"

Tyler Wernecke, Elmhurst College (Elmhurst, Illinois)
Mentor: Eve M. Mellgren, Assistant Professor of Biology, Elmhurst College
"Identifying the role of phoP and phoQ in virulence of DC3000"


Hannah De Jong, Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

Anders Hokinson, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, Massachusetts)

Katie Leonardo, The King's University College (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

Tyree Ratcliff, William Carey University (Hattiesburg, Mississippi)

Jamie Werenka, University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada)


Contact: Adam Fagen
American Society of Plant Biologists

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