Pre-Graduate School Research

Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Tallahassee Florida

Environmental Specialist, February 2008- August 2009

Sampling macroinvertebrates in the Santa Fe River

Sampling macroinvertebrates in the Santa Fe River

During my time in the Standards and Assessment Section of the Florida DEP, I contributed to research supporting the development of water quality standards for the state of Florida through data collection in the field, data analysis and presentation, and literature review. This research taught me how (and why) to sample water chemistry and biological communities (plants, algae, and invertebrates), how to recognize stream and riparian habitat quality, and the importance of following Standard Operating Procedures to ensure data quality (among so many other things!). My experience with FDEP was my first introduction to freshwater ecology, and the impetus for my decision to go to graduate school.

Florida State University Department of Biological Sciences

Research assistant, May 2006-December 2008

Scanning electron microscope image of a guard cell pair I dissected out of Arabidopsis leaf tissue.  Source: Bates, G.W., et al. 2012. “A comparative study of the Arabidopsis thaliana guard-cell transcriptome and its modulation by sucrose.” PLoS ONE 7(11):

Scanning electron microscope image of a guard cell pair I dissected out of Arabidopsis leaf tissue.
Source: Bates et al. 2012.

One of my favorite courses from my undergraduate education was Plant Biology. I enjoyed it so much that I approached the professor, William Outlaw, about research opportunities in his lab, and lucky for me, he hired me as a research assistant! The project I worked on, led by professor George Bates, concerned the role of sucrose in activating gene expression in guard cells. I eventually conducted all steps of the experiments, from raising plants in growth chambers and freeze drying treated leaf tissue to isolating and amplifying RNA from guard cells that I microdissected out of leaf epidermis. This work was recently published in the journal PLoS ONE (see publications).

Dynamac Corp., Kennedy Space Center, FL

Intern, summer 2005

My brief stint with analytical chemistry at KSC

My brief stint with analytical chemistry at KSC

One of the most simultaneously boring, inspiring, and awesome research experiences I’ve had was working in the Space Life Sciences Lab for Dynamac Corp., a contractor for NASA. I worked in an analytical chemistry lab on projects to support NASA’s goal of creating bio-regenerative life support systems for long-term space missions.  Projects included investigating the potential for growing antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to counteract the damaging effect of radiation exposure to astronauts, creating a standardized method for measuring antioxidant capacity, and developing bioreactor prototypes to purify waste water. The boring part was that I mostly ran chemical assays all day (I was an intern after all), but this was more than made up for by the fact that I got to interact with amazing scientists in an incredible location! This experience sparked an interest in chemistry that led me to minor in the subject. Though my research focus now is very different from what I worked on at KSC, the knowledge and inspiration I gained there set the foundation for my career as a science researcher.

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