• Time Zone

  • Organization
    University of Missouri

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    My research so far has revolved around the broader topic of plant lipid metabolism. My previous work focused on sphingolipid metabolism, how it is regulated, and how it impacts growth and cellular processes like programmed cell death. My current work focuses on metabolism of the lipid-derived plant defense hormone, jasmonic acid, and how it affects plant defenses against insect herbivory. I am currently looking at how jasmonic acid is synthesized in response to wounding and how it is metabolized and degraded after a wounding response has been triggered. There are a multitude of potential proteins involved here and it is still a bit of mystery as to how jasmonic acid is so rapidly synthesized by the plants. In general, I am interested in how enzymes in these metabolic pathways function and how they are regulated. I am also interested in how these pathways intersect/interact and what impact that has on plant growth and development. I am interested in lipid research because lipids are often overlooked in having roles outside of membrane structure. In reality, lipids are a structurally diverse class of molecules that are involved in immunity, hormone production, and cellular signaling. Although I’ve had some research experience in yeast and animal systems, I like working with plants because I find them to be the perfect model organism. They are great to use for experiments and at the same time you can gain diverse knowledge from them that can be used to improve crop production or to investigate human diseases.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is best about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    You get to constantly do new things and learn new things. Although individual experiments will need repeating you do get experience with lots of different techniques and methods. You also have quite a bit of freedom when choosing your experiments and research procedures.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is tough about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    You end of doing a lot of work and generating a lot of data that doesn't get used. It can be depressing to work hard and spend a lot of time on something only for the experiment to fail or not be usable as data.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    I have lots of favorites, but I guess Black Walnut, because it secretes chemicals into the soil that harm competitor plants. Plants synthesize a lot of chemicals and I like the ones that use them against competitor organisms. Most plants have chemical defenses but some are very effective or are very specific to certain organisms. Tobacco is pretty cool too, because it synthesizes a lot of nicotine related compounds and loads it into it's trichomes. "Furry" tobacco is coated with these small hair-like barbs (trichomes) that are loaded with this pesticide - which provides pretty good insect protection, as the insects are paralyzed if they land on trichomes. I like plants with strong chemical defenses and I find it a bit odd that a lot of them are commonly used because they are aesthetically pleasing, yet they are incredibly toxic due to their chemical defenses like: oleander, foxglove, rosary pea, etc.

  • 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?

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