How would you describe your research and research goals?
"For my research project, I set out to characterize a new small molecule that could alter how plants grow and develop under red light. This peptide, when produced within our model plant species, Arabidopsis thaliana, seemed to reduce sensitivity to red light and made the seedlings appear similar to those grown in complete darkness. With plants reliant on light not only for photosynthesis but also for cues to coordinate proper development, I was interested to study the exact effect of this new peptide. More broadly, this project served as a case study to analyze the utility of a new system that generates small peptides that would affect plant growth through the expression of short, random DNA sequences."
Which of your academic accomplishments are you most proud of thus far?
"I am most proud of having been invited to speak at the inaugural ASPB Plant Synthetic Biology conference in 2019. Each year, the American Society of Plant Biologists hosts a large Plant Biology conference that brings together researchers from all around the world to discuss new research in plant science. In 2019, ASPB also decided to hold an additional conference focused on the application of synthetic biology in plants. The idea of synthetic biology is to engineer new enzymes, pathways, and systems instead of simply relying on what is already available in nature. It was an honor to present the Random Peptide Project to this audience and to discuss my characterization of the peptide that altered development in red light."
Photos courtesy of UFGI and Tautvydas Shuipys.