Steven Yamada is a Plant Science major in the class of 2013. His interests in the sciences is wide -ranging. Throughout his education, Steven has become interested in how physical and chemical processes occur in a biological context of plants. At the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, he studied how oxidative stress influences root structure and development in Arabidopsis thaliana. At Cornell, in the lab of Dr. Robert Turgeon, he performed experiments aimed at the characterizing phloem-loading mechanisms in several plant species and also experiments studying photosynthetic plasticity and optimization in poplar and tobacco.
A few of Steven's favorite courses at Cornell include BIOPL 2410: Introductory Plant Biodiversity and Evolution with Dr. Karl Niklas, BIOPL 3429: Plant Physiology with Dr. Tom Owens and CHEM 2160: Honors General Chemistry and CHEM 4300: Chemical Structure and Bonding with Dr. Stephen Lee. In the future, Steven plans to pursue a medical degree and/ or a graduate degree in chemistry or biology.
Michael Grome is a member of Cornell's Class of 2013. He is a double major in Plant Sciences and Natural Resources, with interests in earning a PhD in plant physiology and molecular biology, focused around lycophytes and mosses. His academic advisors are Susan Brown (Plant Sciences) and Karim-Aly Kassam (Natural Resources). After starting in Natural Resources, he picked up Plant Sciences as a second major his junior year. The most influential course taken at Cornell was BIOEE 1780, Evolution Writing in the Majors, with current graduate student Amos Belmaker as his T.A. Other influential courses taken were BIOPL 2410: Introductory Plant Biodiversity, BIOPL 3430: Biological & Genetic Engineering of Plants, and NTRES 3330: Ecological Ways of Knowing.
Michael worked as a lab assistant for the Lis Molecular Biology & Genetics Lab, acted as an Outreach Assistant at Finger Lakes ReUse (a nonprofit recycling organization), taught a sustainability course for youth for Cornell's Adult University (CAU), and was a member of the Student Assembly Environmental Committee for two years,
He is currently working with Dr. Karl Niklas and Dr. Mikhail Nasrallah on the transformation, in vitro propagation, and induced embryogenesis from megaspores and microspores of Selaginella apoda. Michael will be working this summer at the DuPont Agricultural Station in Wilmington, DE, working with genetic modification of maize.
Michael plans to eventually work in academic research or in plant genetic material property law.
Elaine Rigney is a Biological Science major in the Class of 2013. Inspired by her positive experience with Hortus Forum, Cornell’s student horticulture club, Elaine joined the Plant Biology concentration. Her advisor is Karl Niklas.
Elaine has been a member, liaison to the dean, and is the current president of Hortus Forum. She has also worked as a lab assistant in the Martin Lab of Boyce Thompson Institute.
In addition to plant-based activities, Elaine also has been involved on campus as a statistics TA for AEM 2100, volunteer for Cornell Orientation, and member of Colleges Against Cancer and Ho-Nun-De-Kah (CALS honors society). She volunteers weekends at Bridges senior assisted living center. Next year, Elaine will be working in New York City for the City Year program with the aim of fighting the national school dropout crisis.
Goettelman has been conducting laboratory tests to examine the effectiveness of maca in reducing acetylcholinesterase. It is known that acetylcholine levels are important to brain function and that Alzheimer’s patients have reduced amounts of acetylcholine reaching key brain receptors. Chemicals in maca could be used as an important way of controlling plaque buildup in the brain of Alzheimer patients.
Michal’s favorite courses at Cornell include Plant Cell Biology, Strategies and Methods in Drug Discovery, and Understanding Wine and Beer.
Michael is now a medical student at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Peter Narby (graduating class of 2012) attended Williamsville North High School. He is a Plant Science major with minors in Entomology and Soil Science. Peter serves currently as a Resident Advisor. He will be a teaching assistant in Introductory Botany (BioPL 2410) in the Fall 2010 semester.
Since 2009, he has conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Thom Owens (studying the response and movement of myosins in Nicotiana tobacumas influenced by differences in light color and intensity).
Peter is majoring in Plant Science and will earn minors in Entomology and Soil Science, for which his favorite classes so far have been Introductory Botany (BioPl 2410) taught by Dr. Karl Niklas and Soil Ecology (CSS 4660) taught by Dr. Janice Thies.
Peter is working on a PhD at the University of California at Davis’ Department of land, Air andWater Resources. He will soon aid in research on agricultural dust in California soils.
For the record, Peter’s favorite plant is Trillium grandiflorum.
Kate Scheibel is a Plant Science / Biology major. Her advisor is Dr. Tom Whitlow in Horticulture. So far, her most interesting courses have been Biology and Management of Plant Diseases (PLPA 3010) taught by Dr. Bill Fry and Plant Cell Biology (PLBio 4440) taught by Dr. Randy Wayne.
Kate conducted a research project with Dr. Greg Martin of BTI looking at resistance to bacterial speck (Pseudomonas syringae) in tomato.
Kate is currently working towards her PhD in the department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley.
Arjun Potter (Cornell class of 2012) has many diverse interests, ranging from general ecology to the specifics of grass taxonomy and conservation biology. He will probably double major in Plant Science and Natural Resources with minors in Plant Biology, and he complements his interest in plants with coursework in Ornithology.
While still in high school, he conducted a field study in India recording bird species in various habitats in Indroda Park. As a consequence, he was awarded the Young Naturalist Award by the American Museum of Natural History.
Arjun has enjoyed Introductory Botany (BIOPL 2410) taught by Dr. Karl Niklas and Introductory Field Biology (NTRES 2100) taught by Dr. Charles Smith.
In the summer of 2010, Arjun will participate with Dr. Melinda Smith (a Yale professor) at the Konza Biological Field Station doing a project looking at the effects of climate changes and drought on native grass populations.
Arjun is currently on a Fulbright. He is researching the effects of grazing on grasslands in Java.
Sharon Avgush came to Cornell as a transfer student. She is majoring in Biology and Society. Her advisor, Prof.Steven A. Wolfe, is in Natural Resources.
A course of particular interest for Sharon was Strategies and Methods in Drug Discovery (BioPL 3800) where she learned that many Western drugs can be traced to natural compounds.
Sharon teamed up with senior research associate in Plant Biology, Manuel A. Aregullin, to conduct research, checking bark and leaf chemical extracts of Catalpa speciosa (Bignoniaceae) for biologically active compounds hoping to find natural plant products that could be used to treat malaria. This research unveiled the presence of iridoid glycosides, one of which has not been previously reported in C. speciosa. Iridoid glycosides are natural products typical of many medicinal plants of the family Bignoniaceae that are known to deter generalist insect herbivores and possess a wide range of pharmaceutical activities.
Sharon's future interests include rural development, natural dyes and bio-prospecting.
Alfonso Doucette’s passion for orchids goes way beyond that of your average enthusiast. He is completely fascinated about virtually everything that has to do with this beautiful and large family of flowering plants. But, his major interest is in a particular group of orchids, called the pleurothallids, which includes such diverse genera as Masdevallia, Dracula, Restrepia, Porroglossum, Lepanthes and Pleurothallis, all of which can be found from southern Florida all the way through the Caribbean and Central America to northern Argentina.
In pursuit of finding new orchid genera or species, Alfonso traveled to Ecuador in 2007 and 2008. He plans to spend part of the summer of 2009 at Finca Dracula near Cerro Punta, Panama.
In March of 2009, Alfonso gave an outstanding lecture to the Liberty Hyde Bailey Club entitled “An Introduction to the orchid Family: their history, taxonomy and cultivation”.
He has taken a number of plant biology courses, including Introductory Botany (Bio Pl 2410), Plant Taxonomy of Cultivated Plants (Bio Pl 2430), Biology of Grasses (BioPl 3590) and Botanical Nomenclature (Bio Pl 6540). Prof. Gerry Davis served as his advisor.
Alfonso is studying the systematics of the Orchidaceae in the Botany Department at the University of Wisconsin.
Thalyana Smith-Vikos is a May 2009 graduate from CALS majoring in Biological Science with a concentration in Plant Biology. She took many courses of the Plant Science major as the two majors are closely related. Prof. Bill Fry served as her advisor.
Thalyana enjoyed BioPL 2410 taught by Prof. Karl Niklas and BioPL 2420/2440 taught by Prof. Peter Davies. She also took courses in Mycology, Plant Genetics and Plant Pathology which were appropriate for her specific interests in plant-pathogen genetic relationships.
While a student, she worked in the Prof. Bill Fry's lab researching the biology and genetics of Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen responsible for Late Blight of potatoes and tomatoes. She also conducted pollination research on the yellow poppy, Glaucium flavum, in Greece.
Thalyana’s extracurricular activities included membership in Alpha Zeta Fraternity (CALS residential fraternity), Ho-Nun-De-Kah (CALS honors society) and she served as president of the Hellenic Student Association.
Thalyana is currently a PhD candidate at Yale University in the
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.
Unfortunately, she is no longer studying plants but has moved onto
another organism, the nematode C. elegans. Her thesis research is
focused on studying the role of microRNAs (small non-coding RNAs)
during the process of aging in C. elegans. She would enjoy going back
to plant research one day, though. After the PhD, she is interested in
a career in science writing/editing, science policy or science