Meet the Current Ambassadors

About the Ambassador Program

Past Ambassadors

Ambassador Alliance

The ASPB Ambassador Program is a semi-independent organization within ASPB with oversight by the Membership Committee.  It is  governed by an ad-hoc committee of six comprised of the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Membership Committee (MemCom) Representative, External Communication Coordinator and Outgoing Chair. This group will be called the Ambassador Alliance. Each position will last for one year.

Andrew Foudree

Andrew Foudree

Chair, Corteva
Janeen Braynen

Janeen Braynen

Vice Chair & Rep to MemCom, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Aleah Henderson<br />-Carter

Aleah Henderson
-Carter

External Communications, University of Kansas
Charles Hodgens

Charles Hodgens

Secretary, University of Tennessee

Undergraduate and Graduate Ambassadors

Modesta Abugu is a PhD Student at North Carolina State University. For her research, she  seeks to explore the genetic mechanisms of flavor in sweetpotato for  improved consumption and nutrition,  under the supervision of Dr. Craig Yencho and Dr. Massimo Iorizzo. She is also the cofounder of the African Researchers Network in ASPB

Shakeel Ahmad

I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant breeding and genetics from University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (Pakistan). During my master, I worked in the laboratory of Prof. Asif Ali Khan where I checked the resistance status of field collected Helicoverpa armigera against different accessions of Bt cotton cultivated in Pakistan under the supervision of Prof. Asif and Dr. Masooma. To fulfill the research thirst in plant biology, I continued my studies and joined Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing in September, 2017 for doctoral studies. Currently, I’m working on rice blast disease in Prof. Hu Peisong’s Lab with the aim and hope to develop blast resistant rice lines with high grain quality using CRISPR/Cas9 system.

Besides research, in my spare time, I love blogging, utilize social media platforms to interact with fellows to get know-how about the things happening around and hang-out with friends. I’m excited being an ASPB Ambassador and I hope to experience this unique opportunity to spread the good work of APSB. I’m looking forward to meeting with professionals working in the field of plant biology so that the interaction and learning will harness benefits for the society!

Contact Me

My name is Israel, and I am from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, USA. I am doing research in plant pathology by studying oxylipin function in maize. I intend to do outreach with children of all ages to show them the beauty that comes with doing molecular work. I also intend to contribute blog posts to ASPB Plant Science Today and contribute to ASPB News as well. Here is a fun fact: I have taken up the study of the Latin language during my free time. I hope to be able to read the Latin version of Winnie the Pooh by the end of this year and make progress on the Aeneid. I am also learning Tagalog and Greek!

This is Tugce Celayir! I am a research scholar in UC Davis Entomology and Nematology. Also, I am currently a M.Sc. student and PhD candidate. My research interest is plant space biology. My dream is improving the quality of spaceflights and helping people to reach Mars. Now, I am investigating plant-pathogen interactions. Before, I had experience with abiotic stress factors too. I choose to improve my knowledge on plant stress biology because in space the most important obstacle for plants is stress originating from space conditions itself. For my point of view, reaching more people and teaching science to inspire them has significant importance. My outreach strategy is using both social media tools and science platforms such as ASPB. In order to ensure better outreach, collaboration and teamwork are necessary. Finally, perhaps, I will prepare samples that will visit space, and this is just the beginning. I always will continue to dream and achieve. Who knows? Maybe one day, Tugce Celayir can visit space in order to study on her own samples.

My name is Aishee De, I’ve done my doctoral research in Plant biology from Bose Institute, India. I’ve always been fascinated and excited to know about plants. However, it was during my pre-doctoral days that I developed a deeper interest in them and eventually started working at both genetic and molecular level. In my recent research, I have worked extensively on investigating the early signalling events associated with perception of pathogens by membrane receptors. My work was aimed at improving crop production and reducing dependence on fungicides. Apart from being an active researcher, I’m also a passionate science communicator; I have always made a conscious effort to communicate my work to a wider audience by publishing papers and presenting them at various national and international forums.

Outside of research, I always look for opportunities where I can make a positive difference in the society. Recently, I have volunteered for a non-profit organization based in Cameroon, where I helped them spread awareness on environmental and societal issues. I’m also someone who thrives in diverse multicultural environments. I love to connect with people around the world, learn about their country and culture, so much so that now I can fluently speak and understand four different languages. If you see a new ASPB ambassador who’s a super active researcher by the day, a passionate social worker by the night, and survives on intermittent power naps in between well then, that’s pretty much me!

I am Aditi Dwivedi, a final year graduate student at National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India. I am fascinated with plant developmental responses under changing environmental conditions. I got curious and developed interest in environmental signalling in plants during my Master’s dissertation at National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India. My PhD work primarily focusses on comparative investigation of plant transcriptional and developmental changes under changing light and temperature conditions in phylogenetically different plant species using transcriptomics. Leads from my PhD research will be instrumental to develop climate smart plants in future. Further, my academic career would be directed in deciphering the biochemical and developmental response of plants towards changing environmental conditions integrating multi-omics approach at single cell level. Other than research, I like teaching and mentoring. I taught Molecular biology and molecular genetics to bachelor’s and Master’s students. Heading and organizing educational and cultural events as a college captain during my early days has given me confidence to be a part of such programmes. In 2020, I was part of the Plantae Webinar Series ‘ Evo-devo as a discovery tool ’. As an ASPB ambassador, I aim to motivate young students to get excited about plant science. I am fascinated to interview the established leaders in the field of plant science for the articles in ASPB News as such interactions would instill confidence that would inspire me for furthering my career in plant science research and communication.

Andrew Egesa

Andrew is a PhD student at the University of Florida in the Environmental Horticulture Department. He has a broad interest in plant science research, especially on signaling in plant development and the interaction of developmental and environmental signals on growth and performance. He is also interested in applying plant science knowledge and skills in crop improvement and biopharming.

New email: egesaa@ufl.edu

My name is Maria Clara and I am a PhD student at the University of Arkansas, in the Crop Soil and Environmental Science department. In my current research, I am using phenotyping and “omics” analysis to understand the functions of SnRK1 signaling in rice plants.

One of my outreach interests is to encourage young people to pursue careers as scientists. Using social media, I created a mentorship group that helped young Brazilians get into U.S. and Canadian colleges to do internships or graduate studies in science fields and I also created an Instagram page named “CRISPR Brasil” dedicated to promoting CRISPR education in Brazil. In my free time, I like to go hiking, swimming, playing volleyball, and reading fiction books. A fun fact about myself is that I grew up on a farm in Brazil which made me choose to pursue a career in plant biology.

I am a recent graduate of the University of California San Diego, currently working outside of plant biology, but applying to plant biology graduate programs for Fall 2022. During my undergrad, I spent 4 wonderful years in the Huffaker lab studying plant innate immunity.

I worked on several projects during this time, including investigation of a transcription factor which was found to modulate plant defense responses in a phosphorylation dependent manner. Another project identified a receptor for the inceptin elicitor of plant defense, which originates from herbivory events in beans. My most recent project was characterizing a novel family of defense signaling peptides in multiple species of the bean family, as well as characterizing the putative receptors in their respective plant systems. I was a 2018 SURF awardee for this project and presented my results at the Plant Biology conference in San Jose in 2019.

I am very excited to be able to spread knowledge of plant sciences as an ASPB ambassador and get to know the other ambassadors as well.

Contact Me

BENJAMIN Joshua is a Doctoral Researcher in Epigenetics at the Max Planck Institute of Epigenetics and Immunobiology and the University of Freiburg, Germany. He obtained a Bachelor of Agriculture in Crop Protection and Environmental Biology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, followed by a Double Master’s degree from Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain, and Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, Germany. He is focused on epigenetic mechanisms governing plant response to environmental cues, especially stress conditions.

I am Jitendra, a PhD scholar at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India. Currently, I am working in the area of genomics assisted crop improvement in Dr. Swarup K. Parida’s Lab. I am very happy to be selected as an ASPB ambassador. My current research focuses on deciphering the complex genetic architecture of abiotic stress tolerance in chickpea. I am also interested in understanding the impact of natural selection and domestication on shaping these traits in cultivated and wild Chickpea genepool.

I have always been in a quest to understand and unfold the fascinating mystery of science. While growing as a researcher, I realized that the ideas and technicality of advanced scientific approaches are scattered and limited to a particular group of people due to several barriers at the communication, technology and infrastructure level. Further, the deeply technical nature of the research work makes it difficult to explain its importance in a way that people without any technical background can understand.

As a research fellow, my science communication is more focused on publishing articles, displaying posters, writing scientific proposals and presenting at the conference. Apart from these technical forms of communication, I would like to explore the institutional as well as the global platform with more involvement and dialogues like group discussion and brainstorming sessions to exchange our ideas further.

I love to watch movies, travel to different areas to explore the local cuisine, and meet diverse people and their cultures in my free time. I am a low maintenance guy; good food & closeness to nature is all I need for a perfect day.

I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri. I’m interested in plant-microbe beneficial interactions and how they can make agriculture more sustainable.

As an international student in the U.S., I have made it my goal to pave the way for other international students and help them navigate life in a different country. At Mizzou, I’m a student leader in a group of more than 600 international students and postdocs.

I have been an ASPB ambassador since 2021 and am part of the ASPB Midwest committee. Being part of ASPB has made it easy to meet other plant scientists in different career stages and helped me understand what career could suit me the best.

Balancing work with spending time with my family is a big priority for me. I love spending time with my dog, reading a good book, and watching silly TV shows with my husband. 

Nadia Mourad Silva holds a B.S. degree in Microbiology & Cell Science from the University of Florida. During her undergraduate studies, she conducted research in a lab focused on strawberry volatile genes for flavor enhancement. This experience ignited her passion for horticultural sciences and the potential of biotechnology in addressing global food security and crop improvement. Following her degree, she gained practical experience at a seed company and an ornamental plant nursery. 

Nadia returned to the University of Florida to pursue a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology. Her current research concentrates on maize kernel development and metabolism. Specifically, exploring the role of sorbitol metabolism, the interplay with overall carbohydrate partitioning, and its impact on seed quality and quantity. 

Outside of her academic pursuits, Nadia is actively engaged in leadership and mentorship roles within the plant science community such as with the UF Plant Science Council chapter, as an ASPB Ambassador, and through volunteering within the local community. 

Contact and Social Media:

nmourad@ufl.edu

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadia-mourad/

Twitter: @NadiaNazihM

Hello, my name is Deisiany Neres. I am a Ph.D. candidate at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg Virginia. My research interests are in using synthetic biology to study plant resistance. I am also interested in bioinformatics and transcriptomics.

My bachelor’s degree is in Forest Engineering, and since my second semester as an undergraduate student I found myself interested in plant genetics. I have worked with genetics population in Annona crassiflora trees, African Mahogany improvement, and intern for 9 months in a biotech company that works in finding resistance to eucalyptus.

As a first-generation student I am super excited about making science interesting to the generations to come, as well as building new connections through public relations.

A fun fact about me is that I can walk on my hands and do some “risky” yoga poses without never being a practitioner. I am super excited about being part of this team and I hope to learn and contribute a lot to the ASPB community.

Armaan Sandhu

South Dakota State University, SD, USA

RESEARCH INTERESTS- My goal is to serve humanity with new and environmentally safe agricultural products. I am ambitious to research and innovate in field of plant microbiology and uncover new knowledge.

Symbiotic relation of rhizobia and legume is initiated by attachment of bacteria to the root and attachment involves interaction between root and bacterial surface, indicating that surface properties of rhizobia play a considerable role but still remains unexplored.

I am interested in:

  • Understanding role of the surface and attachment related properties of Bradyrhizobium in soil environment.
  • Exploring effect of soy root exudates on attachment-associated phenotypic properties of Bradyrhizobium USDA 110.
  • Understanding chemical signals involved in promoting the competition of the strain Bradyrhizobium USDA 110.

OUTREACH INTERESTS- For me outreach is to build bridges between scientists of different disciplines and public to make science more exciting. Effective outreach has 3 elements: Clear goal, knowing audience and appropriate source. At this platform following could be good ways of outreach:

  • Online seminar series can be initiated where experienced scientists in academia/industry can share upcoming research opportunities.
  • Advertise research by Graduate student chapter and Newsletter with all the updates constantly.

FUN FACT- Enjoy interacting with people from different backgrounds and can show moves on any of the music forms.

KNOW ME- I am very driven, optimistic, and hard-working person, just not from work perspective but in life. I love to be around animals and nature.

Sammi Surber is a PhD student at the University of Georgia in the Department of Plant Biology. She works with Dr. CJ Tsai with her dissertation project working on characterizing xylem preferential sulfate transporter genes with in Populus tremula X alba. Sammi’s broader interests lie in science communication about gene and genome editing as well as making STEM more accessible in rural communities in the US.

Postdoc Ambassadors

Hello! I recently graduated with a doctoral degree from East Tennessee State University, TN, USA and currently working as a Postdoctoral researcher in the same lab. My research focuses on understanding the transcriptional regulation of oil biosynthesis in plants. Especially, I am working on understanding the healthy oil biosynthesis process in the avocado fruit. My research has possible future implications in food security and biofuel production.

I have been a member of the ASPB community since 2020 and joined the Ambassador program in 2023. I have been actively engaged in regional outreach activities. I also attended and volunteered at the ASPB events for the past two years and looking forward to doing more in the future. Besides research, I love traveling, trying different cuisines, and doing landscape photography.

Louis Pasteur once said, “Science know no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch  which  illuminates  the  world”.  With this torch  I  plan  to  help  with  the diversification, incursion and contribute of science to a wider audience. This quote always stood out to me; as Ijourney towards my goal to become a better scientist. My name is Janeen Braynen and I’ve obtained my doctorate degree at Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China. As  a  Ph.D.  student  my  primarily  focus  was  to  understand  alteration  occurring  during reproduction and flowering time in diploid, haploid and polyploid Brassica rapa using various  omics techniques.  Currently, my research focus on understanding gene regulatory networks which control nutrient used efficiencies in crop plants. Apart from my research endeavors, I am passionate about teaching and communicating science to non-scientist and young future scientist. Prior, to my post doctorate studies, I volunteer extensively in undergraduate classes, in my country, to discuss my journey in science and the impact science research can have on societies. In addition to this all, I am individual who love to serve my community by volunteer my  time  to  tutor  elementary  and  high  school  students. Also, I  enjoy  being  a  part  of organizations that serve, help, and is committed to uplifting children and young adults within local communities. Moreover, my hobbies include baking and practicing yoga.

I am a research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison at the Department of Botany. I had previously worked at the Noble Research Institute in Ardmore, Oklahoma and received my Ph.D. and Bachelor of Science from the Australian National University. My research interest is in understanding root growth and development and how those processes pertain to their function. I have been a member of ASPB since 2019 and have been excited to be part of the Ambassador program to develop science outreach programs and work on issues revolving around early career plant scientists.

Name and preferred/nickname: Irene Cobo-Simon (Nickname: Irene)
Institution: Forest Science Institute (ICIFOR-INIA, CSIC, Spain)
Research Interests: My scientific career is mostly focused on understanding the adaptive response of forest trees to biotic/abiotic stresses under a climate change context. My research uses mainly molecular and omics data (e.g. transcriptomics, genomics, multi-omics) and is being carried out using multiple approaches, including environmental and experimental data (e.g. growth chambers, grafts)
Outreach Interests: I consider science outreach as a duty for me as a scientist, since it contributes to promoting public awareness and understanding of science. These science outreach activities are key, not only to awaken or help discover scientific vocations among the youngest (students, children), but also to help and train educators (e.g. teachers) so that they can better perform their teaching activity in science. These activities are also of great importance to educate the general public in scientific matters, which I consider a right and a great contribution to society, with multiple positive implications. For example, science outreach leads to a better understanding for citizens of the scientific measures and policies carried out by policymakers, whose importance has been highlighted during the coronavirus crisis.
A fun fact about yourself: In addition to biology, I love cats and learning languages!

I am a Postdoctoral Associate and Project Director for the Biochemistry Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My research focuses on enhancing food security through combating the phosphorus crisis. I have received a USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship to develop novel crops to mitigate fertilizer pollution and increase phosphate use-efficiency. I have also developed a scientific outreach initiative known as”Phyte4Food.” The goal of Phyte4Food is to enhance public awareness of the phosphorus crisis, plant biology, where are food comes from, and other important agricultural topics. Beginning videos can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/@Phyte4Food.

email: cfreed@wisc.edu

Aleah is a postdoctoral researcher in the Integrative Biology Department and an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Freshman Research Initiative – Experiential Learning Office at the University of Texas at Austin. Aleah received her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biology from Dillard University (an HBCU in New Orleans, LA) and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS). She has maintained membership in the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) since 2017. Aleah is broadly interested in plant biology and had the opportunity to be a participant in the 2017 Frontiers and Techniques in Plant Science course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, New York, USA as well as the ASPB Conviron Scholar’s program in 2020. In addition to her research, Aleah is very passionate about scientific communication, outreach, and increasing participation and retention of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. At UT Austin, Aleah runs a research course (X-Plants) where she teaches molecular biology, computational biology, and plant genetics techniques to undergraduate students (https://fri.cns.utexas.edu/research-streams/x-plants). As the external communications representative for the ambassador alliance, Aleah continues to disseminate ASPB initiatives and the wonderful work we do to further ASPB mission.

Name and preferred/nickname: Vishnu Mishra

Institution: National Institute of Plant Genome research (NIPGR), New Delhi, India.

Research Interests: miRNAs, plant development and molecular biology.

Outreach Interests: I am interested in all the topics related to outreach, science communication and popularization.

A fun fact about yourself: I like to play cricket and hanging out with my friends, and stuff like that.

Anything else you want people to know about you: Yes, if I was not in research, would have been in an intelligence agency and would have served my country.

Introduction: Myself, Vishnu Mishra and currently working at National Institute of Plant Genome research (NIPGR) under Prof. Ananda K. Sarkar. I have completed my Ph.D. work at NIPGR, New Delhi, India. My Ph.D. research involves the detailed expression analysis of miRNA(s) and targets in Arabidopsis and the functional characterization of miRNA(s) and targets for possible role in shoot or root development. Apart from research, I like to play cricket and hanging out with my friends, and stuff like that. I am interested in all the topics related to outreach, science communication and popularization. Yes, one important thing to know about me is that if I was not in research, would have been in an intelligence agency and would have served for country.

Twitter: @VishnuM02351183

I am Prachi Pandey, a Postdoctoral Researcher working at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, New Delhi, India. My research focuses on understanding mechanisms of stress tolerance in plants. Currently, I am trying to understand the effect of the combination of biotic and abiotic stresses on chickpeas. Working with an enthusiastic team at NIPGR, I am exploring how drought can influence chickpea’s defense against foliar and root pathogens. We observe the plants in the fields and study their defense systems in the lab using various physiological and molecular tools and techniques. Being a molecular biologist by training and persevering to become a plant physiologist, I enjoy discussions on molecular and physiological aspects of plant defense mechanisms. At present, I am involved in research outreach activities. However, I intend to participate in educational outreach more frequently since I find talking to kids about the mysteries of plants intriguing.

I owe my newly evolved ability to keep finding and giving answers to my four-year-old child, who motivates me to step onto unchartered territories almost every day. Outside lab, I enjoy spending time with my little kid, reading books, and singing nursery rhymes together. I love exploring new avenues with him every day. We are scientists growing together!

Hello! My name is Elena Andrea Pelech, and I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. My research interests involve ecological and technological methods to increase crop productivity. During my PhD, I studied the ecophysiological complexities of maize and soybean intercropping systems where I took many physiological measurements which were also used to parametrize a three-dimensional plant simulation model. I have explored the natural variation of mesophyll conductance during photosynthetic induction in ancestral soybean cultivars for the RIPE project (Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency) and I am currently working on improving the loss in photosynthetic efficiency found in the lower shade leaves of bioenergy sorghum (funded by the Department of Energy). I am also the outreach officer for the ASPB Environmental Ecological Plant Physiology section. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, gardening, video games, travelling, and reading about mythology/history.

Hi, all! My name is Thayssa, and I am a postdoctoral researcher at São Paulo State University (Brazil). Since my Bachelor’s studies, I have been working with plant science, and I have a keen interest in studying plant responses to environmental changes. I am currently investigating the systemic acquired acclimation of Sorghum bicolor under salt stress.

My professional goal is to have my research group in South America. As a German/ Brazilian citizen, married to a Colombian, and who has lived in the three countries, I want to keep the collaborations I have made during my doctoral study in Germany to increase the scientific opportunities between Europe and South America.

I have always been interested in science communication. During my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies in Brazil, I organized science fairs in schools and annual meetings of biology students that aimed to promote sports and networking among sixteen Brazilian universities. In Germany, I was an elected student representative of the doctoral researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München, and I had the chance to improve the working conditions and networking opportunities for doctoral researchers at the campus.

I am excited to be part of the Ambassador Program because I will increase my science outreach skills, networking, and learn a lot with the ASPB’s community. I am looking forward to meeting you all!

My name is Anuradha Singh, and I am a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University in Dr. Addie Thompson’s lab (Plant Soil and Microbial Science Department). My current research focuses on genomic and phenomic analyses of sorghum under seasonal stress conditions using statistical and physiological modeling. As a first-generation scientist, I aspire to be a role model for many other young students in my town, as well as for my daughter!

As an ASPB Ambassador, I am dedicated to raising awareness about the biodiversity crisis, climate change, food security, and supporting animal-free diets. I consider myself a motivated scientist who is committed to conveying informative science to young and developing minds, aiming to increase interest and awareness in plant science-related fields. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, engaging in outdoor activities, and maintaining my garden.

Contact Details: singha57@msu.edu

My name is Simon. I am very happy to be part of this group of people with such enthusiasm for science. I feel like this is a nice opportunity to meet with like-minded people and add some excitement to the plant biology community.

I am Belgian and obtained my PhD in Biology at the university of Ghent in the Lab of Functional Plant Biology, working on studying and improving vitamin accumulation in plants. Currently, I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Geneva, further unraveling fundamental aspects of plant vitamin metabolism. I have a keen interest in metabolic engineering, as I have been working on biofortification, thereby increasing the nutritional value of crops. I love doing both fundamental as well as more applied research.

I hope being part of the ASPB ambassador community will help me in communicating science to a more general audience as I believe this is an indispensable part of our scientific duties, but also something I enjoy very much. I hope I will be able to boost the curiosity of the general public towards scientific topics.

I love the outdoors, going hiking or enjoying the exotic plants I’m trying to maintain in my garden. I consider myself very passionate and I am excited and honored to be an ASPB ambassador.

Jithesh Vijayan

I am a postdoctoral scholar in the Dept. of Biochemistry at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I work with Dr. Rebecca Roston. I am a plant and algal physiologist with an interest in signaling, stress and nutrient availability. Currently I am working towards understanding the mechanism of action of an archaeal antioxidant that is able to increase the biomass yield/ productivity in a variety of plants species such as Arabidopsis, soy bean, tobacco and basil. For my doctoral dissertation, I studied the role of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Target of Rapamycin (TOR) in microalgal metabolism under nitrogen starvation.

I have been a member of ASPB since 2015 and an ambassador since 2018. I am interested in outreach activities and SciCom, and participate in a variety of events targeted to non-science audience. I am currently serving as an ECR rep on the program committee (2021/22). In this role I hope to augment the program of the PlantBio2022 to better serve the ECR community.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vt_jithesh

Contact me

My name is Hana Zand Karimi. Currently, I am working as a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University in St. louis. I got my Ph.D. from Indiana University working on plant extracellular RNAs. I have been working on extracellular communication, especially the role of extracellular RNAs in plant-pathogen interaction. Currently, I am working on the autophagy-related pathway in both Arabidopsis and Saccharomyces. I got interested in the ASPB ambassador program because I believe in the power of scientific communication. I am interested in outreach programs, especially those that provide simplified scientific information for kids and the public audience. Outside the lab, you can find me in my kitchen or small garden in my backyard. I love baking, painting, and crafting. I enjoy outdoor activities such as walking, biking, and skiing. My current challenge is to maintain work-life balance in my life 🙂

I am a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of California, San Diego. In Jazz Dickinson’s lab, I focus on small metabolites that regulate root development and growth in Arabidopsis, maize and tomato. I received my Ph.D. from Huazhong Agriculture University (Wuhan, China). My dissertation work focused on TAA-YUC-mediated auxin synthesis and CRISPR/CAS9 technology in rice. I am excited to work with other scientists as an ASPB ambassador and contribute to improving the field of plant research.

Professional/Industry Ambassadors

I am a Senior Research Associate at Corteva Agriscience, with over a decade of broad biotechnology research experience, specifically in the areas of process improvement for gene editing, transformation, and reproductive biology. I am a coauthor of peer-reviewed publications and am an inventor on several patent applications.  My philosophy on work includes promoting a collaborative approach and creative problem solving.   I also currently sit on the University of Wisconsin Biotechnology Master’s Program Advisory Board, and am lead editor of Corteva’s Biotechnology Newsletter.

Hello everyone, I am a research associate in the Department of Botany at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I received my Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville under the guidance of Dr. Brad M. Binder, where I had worked on the contrasting roles of ethylene receptors ETR1 and ETR2 in the regulation of seed germination under different abiotic stress responses in the model plant system Arabidopsis thaliana. Currently, in Dr. Simon Gilroy’s lab at UW-Madison, I am working on several projects where I am looking into the role of calcium signaling and its components in the regulation of flooding and low-oxygen stress responses in plants under earth-based as well as outer space microgravity-based environments. Till date, I have worked on different plant systems ranging from the model plant Arabidopsis to other species such as tobacco, cotton, and tomato. Beyond doing research in the laboratory, I love teaching science. I had been a lecturer in the University of Calcutta back in India after completing my master’s program and had also taught multiple semesters during my graduate school and at UW-Madison. Apart from research, I really enjoy doing martial arts, acting in plays and showcasing Indian culture in the form of dance or songs in different cultural events. If you are curious to know how plants behave and grow in space, please feel free to contact me in my email id: bakshi4@wisc.edu.

I am a Plant Physiology Scientist II with Bayer Crop Science in the Biologics Corn and Soy Crop Efficiency team. My work is focused on evaluating candidate microbes that can sustainably contribute to nitrogen nutrition in corn and soy and advancing strong candidates for product development.

Prior to this, I earned a B.Sci. in Plant Science and Biology from Utah State University and then completed a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. While conducting doctoral research on the molecular mechanisms that control the formation of symbiotic associations between poplar trees and mycorrhizal fungi, I received a 3-year NSF graduate research fellowship. After graduating, I continued my research on beneficial plant-microbe interactions as a postdoctoral research associate at South Dakota State University. For three years, I studied legume tripartite interactions with both arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and the nitrogen fixing bacteria rhizobia. I then transitioned to Oak Ridge National Lab for one year and characterized the plant developmental, metabolic, and signaling pathways underlying the mediation of beneficial plant-microbe interactions in Populus.

Check out my publications on Google Scholar:

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=DShtVyoAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao

Beyond research, I enjoy gardening, mountain biking, and chess. I also love engaging in scientific outreach. Most notably, I developed and deployed a plant science merit badge workshop at the University of Wisconsin–Madison with the help of 15 graduate student volunteers that I recruited and trained each year. Together, over four years, we helped nearly 200 scouts not only earn the plant science merit badge but develop a genuine interest in the plant sciences. My goal is to help establish similar workshops elsewhere to help plant scientists engage meaningfully with youth and motivate them to pursue a career in plant science.

Please reach out to me if you are interested!

Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter (@KevinCope18) or on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-r-cope/).

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My name is Gina and I am a first-year faculty at Hawaii Pacific University. My research interests are plant-fungal relationships, biotic interactions and forest ecology.

For my bachelor’s degree, I studied the effects of deer herbivory on tree seedlings in the urban forests of New Jersey. Here I found a passion for studying plants, learning about their relationships with other living things, and how we as humans influence those relationships. From there I went on to spend a service year in AmeriCorps before starting my masters, where I educated the public about the wonders of trees through social media campaigns, blog writing, and public outreach events. My master’s research focused on the effects of fungal pathogens on tree seedlings in tropical forests fragmented by coffee plantations in Costa Rica. While my research mainly focuses on ecological concepts, one of my favorite things to teach (and learn about) is plant hormones and signalling.

When I’m not working, you can find me in my backyard garden, where I am growing over 50 plants. I also enjoy reading a good book and spending time with my rabbit (who also loves my garden, because he can eat the plants!).

My name is Audrey Fahey and I work at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in Dr. Doreen Ware’s lab. As a Research Technician, I support work focused on understanding plant response to abiotic stress and organ development through their gene regulatory networks. I am interested in utilizing computational and bench techniques to better understand the roles genes play in plant phenotypes; how these genes evolved; and their role in plant development. As Ambassador, I look forward to contributing to the ASPB News or ASPB Plant Science Today blog as well as supporting organization of the North East Regional meeting. In my free time I love to read, play volleyball, craft, and watch TV shows and movies. A fun fact about me is that I grew up speaking both English and Japanese, so sometimes I also go by one of my middle names, Midori!

Andrew FoudreeMy background in Plant Science started at Iowa State University in Ames, IA. I have lived in Iowa for several years and enjoy biking, hunting, and spending time outdoors. I currently work at Corteva Agriscience within the Trait Discovery group. As part of a team, I work to develop, evaluate, and advance new trait leads into our pipeline. A specific part of my role involves evaluation and tracking of new transgenic and edited mutation events. By joining the ASPB Ambassadors program, I hope to be part of their mission to promote ASPB through networking and development of leadership in science.

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I am currently a Professor of Biology and Chemistry at Fitchburg State University, which is a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI) in North-Central Massachusetts.  While my university mostly focuses on teaching and advising, I have been diligent with working with undergraduate students over the last 14 years in creating authentic research experiences both inside and outside the classroom.  My research since graduate school has shifted from plant-insect interactions to the effect of Silver Nanoparticles (AgNP) on plant growth and physiology.  This is mostly due to collaborations with my amazing colleagues in both the Chemistry and Math Departments at Fitchburg State.  Some of my classes worked with insects and looked at whether AgNP treatment affects herbivory (spoiler alert: it does not).  Doing research with students at a PUI has its challenges, including lack of funding and limited time during the semester to finish projects.  Because of this, I have converted my senior-level Plant Biology class into a CURE (Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experience).  Students conduct research throughout the semester as a class and present their findings in a lab report or at a poster session at the culmination of the project.  Students who are interested in continuing the research have been able to do so as independent study students in the following semesters.  I have been active in the CURE community and encourage faculty with limited time for research to read about this model.  Here is a link to the CURE-Net website with more information:  (Type “Rehrig” into the search field to find my project).

When I am not in the classroom, having coffee with my husband, or driving my 2 children to work/football/lacrosse/skiing, I am in nature either running or hiking with my dog (and looking at plants).   I also love teaching non-majors botany courses and teaching students about the “cool” things plants can do to defend themselves against insects and other herbivores.   While I am not the most active person on social media, I am quick to respond to emails and am always willing to help new faculty who are just starting their careers (esp. at teaching institutions).  My email is erehrig@fitchburgstate.edu.  Please email me if you ever want to talk about some of your research ideas!

Originally from Punjab, the northern state of India, I come from a farming background that inspired me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science. This journey led me to receive a scholarship from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for both my master’s and Ph.D. degrees in the field of Agronomy & Horticulture.

My doctoral research primarily focused on developing an innovative seed treatment protocol to explore the growth and transcriptional response of the newly registered seed treatment compound ‘BMVE’ in wheat and rice. Additionally, I delved into deciphering the role of the phytohormone ‘Auxin’ and its associated downstream developmental changes during the reproductive phase in rice under temperature stress. The insights from my dissertation work are poised to offer valuable perspectives on the potential use of BMVE as a plant growth regulator and the underlying adaptive mechanisms related to crop development under various heat stress conditions.

Following the completion of my doctorate, I assumed the role of Crop Scientist Agronomist at Bayer R&D services, a prominent agriculture company. In my current capacity, I leverage the knowledge gained from my graduate career to spearhead projects aimed at developing methodologies for studying the dormancy and germination capabilities of crop seeds in sub-optimal temperatures. Additionally, I am actively involved in testing newly developed crop biotech products in multi-location field trials across the United States to generate agronomic and phenotypic data, assess environmental risks, and compile reports for submission to global regulatory agencies.

Since May 2021, I have had the honor of serving as a graduate student ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB). From day one of my appointment, I have been fervently dedicated to promoting ASPB and disseminating scientific knowledge generated from our organization’s platform. As an ambassador, I had the opportunity to moderate three concurrent sessions during the Plant Biology meeting in 2021 and the ASPB Midwest section meeting in 2023. I am actively seeking further opportunities to contribute to the mission of ASPB and make meaningful contributions to the field of plant biology.

Contact: jaspinderjawandha75@gmail.com

My journey in the field of plant genetics started in India, where I did my Master’s in the field of plant breeding and genetics. I did my PhD at Washington State University, where I worked on understanding the evolution of chromosome pairing control in wheat. I have recently joined as a research scientist, where I am working to develop a targeted method of alien gene transfer. By joining ASPB’s ambassador’s program, I hope to play my role in ASPB’s mission. I hope to further develop my professional network and improve my leadership skills. I strongly feel that communication and training play a critical role in improvement in any field of science, so I will do my best to promote ASPB’s long-term goals and engage next generation of plant scientists.

Contact Information: kanwar@geneshifters.com

I am a Plant Physiologist with Bayer Crop Science in the Plant Biotechnology Trait Testing team. My work is focused on evaluating new products and traits in our corn and soy discovery pipeline. I take great pride in the work we do at Bayer to provide farmers with better tools and solutions to grow food in a more sustainable and economical way.

Prior to my industry career, I earned a B.Sc. in Genetics and Cell Biology from Washington State University and then completed a Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University working on uncovering the mechanisms of resistance to glyphosate in giant ragweed using RNA-seq. I continued my early scientific career as a postdoctoral scientist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Parlier, CA working on Pierce’s Disease in grapevine and then moving to Wenatchee, WA to work on apple re-plant disease using a metagenomics approach.

Beyond research I enjoy distance running, skiing, LEGOs, and movies. I am passionate about networking and scientific outreach. I have enjoyed mentoring students through the CEMB program at Washington University since joining Bayer in Chesterfield, MO. I also lead the Plant Biotech Engagement team at Bayer to generate positivity and inclusivity among peers and to lead impactful events to support our community.  By joining the ASPB Ambassadors program, I am excited to be part of their mission to promote ASPB through networking and empowering the next generation of plant scientists.

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