Maria Valeria Avanzato

Profile

  • Time Zone
    Eastern

  • Organization
    Coker College

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am a plant pathologist, a plant doctor :). This career/job allowed me to interact with two of my favorite organisms: plants and fungi. The passion discovered in plants and fungi influenced my research interests and projects. With the help of many of my undergraduate students I had the chance to develop two lines of research: 1) Biodiversity and ecological role of oomycetes (fungal-like organisms) associated with diseases of ornamental aquatic plants- water lilies and, 2) The antimicrobial and antifungal activity of Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel). This part of my research is dedicated to explore plant extracts and their use as potential natural antimicrobial and antifungal agents. For that, I work side by side with a chemistry professor (Dr. H) who helps me out with the identification of the chemical structures of active plants extracts. Team work!

  • Profile Question 1
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    So hard to pick one! I've been in love of plants since early in my career so I bet I can tell you an amazing story about almost any plant you could pick :). I have worked with soybeans, cotton, water lilies, mountain laurel (Kalmia), pansies and the list goes on. But I guess that if I had to choose one it would be the Venus fly trap, a plant that can actually count! A wonderful adaptation that allow them to sense the presence of the insect visitor by sensing the tapping of their tiny legs. Oh! and ghost pipes (Monotropa uniflora) and actual plant without chlorophyll- how crazy is that? :)

  • Profile Question 2
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    Well, my last high school year, my Biology Professor planted that seed in my head. Later on, knowing I was going to be a biologist, there were two -OMG- classes in College that led my path into becoming a plant pathologist: Introduction to Botany and Plant Pathology. Funny story: When I got into College I thought I was going to be a virologist and plants were not even in my list! Science is a world of wonder, so many amazing areas to pick from. Take the chance and explore them!

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you share a funny/interesting lab or field story?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    So many! One of the memorable field stories happened in Stuttgart, Arkansas while we were counting soybean plants. Beautiful day, a lot of work to do and we suddenly saw the people at the field running like crazy and shouting at us something that was unintelligible...Guess what? There was a wild hog totally mad running toward us in the field!!! Fortunately, nothing happened. The workers hunted him down and nowadays the hog is a trophy at the experimental. station :/ . It was just like the movies!

  • How did you hear about PlantingScience?
    Facebook

  • Availability
    I am currently available for mentoring, please send me team match invitations

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?
    1

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