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SciSpark 2021

Five minutes, five slides, no limit to the fascinating things you will learn about the living world!

Five early-career women in science will give fast-paced five-minute “lightning talks” on a range of bio-inspired topics and share a little about their research as well as their path to science. All are volunteers with Market Science, a program that meets people where they are by bringing science conversations and hands-on activities to farmers markets and other informal spaces.


Michelle works in field wearing an orange safety vestMichelle Boone | Bee Conservation

Michelle is a PhD candidate in the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on non-lethal research methods and occupancy modeling for endangered insects. Upon graduation, she aspires for a conservation job in the federal government.


Jill Ekar examines flowers in the field

Jill Ekar | Plant Evolution and Genetics

Jill has been researching plant biology and evolution with the Brandvain Lab at the University of Minnesota since 2015. She helps out with lots of different projects that come up in the lab, but her main focus, in collaboration with Forever Green, is to develop perennial sunflowers as part of a conservation agricultural system.


Katrina works in the field wearing a red shirtKatrina Freund Saxhaug | Phenology

Katrina is working as a postdoctoral associate in the Horticulture Department after completing her MS and a PhD at the University of Minnesota. She studies how plants cope with different environmental conditions and how metabolites might be beneficial for the plant . She also volunteers with Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve and collects long-term phenology data.


Saumya stands in wetland area collecting frogsSaumya Gupta | Animal Communication

Saumya Gupta is a PhD student in Dr. Mark Bee’s lab in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. She is interested in understanding how animals communicate in loud, noisy environments, and she uses frogs as a study system to answer this question. She believes that the knowledge gained by studying how nature solves the problem of communication in noise can inform the emerging speech recognition technology.

Abby walks through field with a clipboard in her handAbby Guthmann | African Mammal Ecology

Abby is a PhD candidate with the University of Minnesota Lion Center in the lab of Dr. Craig Packer. She studies the ecological interactions of large vertebrate species in East Africa, with a specific focus on how people and their cattle fit into the Kenyan ecosystem.




About SciSpark

SciSpark is an annual event celebrating diversity in science and a public forum for conversations about how to best support equity and inclusion in science and work toward a future in which all people have opportunities to engage in science.

About Market Science

Market Science is a team of scientists from the University of Minnesota, and around the Twin Cities, sharing science through hands-on learning activities for kids, delving into scientific questions for market goers, and starting conversations between researchers and their communities.

Organized by the College of Biological Sciences Impact Exchange in collaboration with the Bell Museum.


March, 2021