William Burke


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    Western University

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    My research involves the generation of transplastomic tobacco crops expressing insecticidal double-stranded RNA through modification of their chloroplast genome. This research is one part of a group of projects with the goal of developing efficient, species-specific, insecticidal trap crops for growth within greenhouses or in fields alongside agriculturally important crops to increase yield in an environmentally-friendly way.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is the coolest thing you have discovered or learned about plants?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    One of the coolest things I've learned about plants is that all photosynthetic plant cells form a symbiotic relationship with their chloroplast. Chloroplast were once free-living bacteria that were engulfed by plant cells at some point in history. Chloroplast now harvest sunlight through photosynthesis in order to provide energy for the plant, and this energy travels through the food chain to power nearly all life on the planet. Though chloroplast have evolved to lose much of their autonomy, they still maintain many traits of a cell such as a membrane and genome.

  • Profile Question 2
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My best advice for students preparing for a career in sciences is to get involved as soon as possible so that you feel more comfortable when you need to take on a more serious role. Something like a part-time position at a lab washing glassware or job shadowing a professor or technician. Later on you'll be glad to have a foot in the door and you can start learning valuable skills that will make you more confident when you eventually get your first serious lab project. Plus, you may make some great connections which can come in handy later on in life when you're looking for a job.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is best about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    The best part about being a scientist is the feeling of triumph when you finally overcome a major challenge in your research! You may run the same experiment for a month with something going wrong every time, which makes you want to tear your hair out. But the day that you finally get things figured out and are able to look back at what you were doing wrong, it'll all be worth it. This is the best way to learn a lesson you'll never forget!

  • Help represent the outreach efforts of your societies. Please click all those organizations you are a member of:
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  • In addition to English, I am comfortable communicating with students in the following languages:
    (not set)

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

Recent Posts

lsdfagleyfall2017 project 5 William Burke

No problem team! Ultimately I'm not too surprised that the sand experiments were unable to sprout, but I am a little curious as to why the seeds in soil could not. I suppose this could depend on a lot of factors - soil alkalinity,…

lsdfagleyfall2017 project 5 William Burke

Looks like solid data so far! I'll be interested in seeing whether the plants in the other groups sprout or not over the next couple weeks.

I would say the main issue with the sand and dirt groups is likely the distribution of water. From…

lsdfagleyfall2017 project 5 William Burke

Water absorption by the growth media is definitely a factor that needs to be considered when growing plants. Did the water eventually dry in the sand and dirt experiments?

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