PROGRAM Plant Biological Sciences
ADVISORS Professors Adrian D. Hegeman and Donald L. Wyse
What are your research interests? I am interested in linking the production of marketable commercial commodities with the production ecosystem services. Specifically, developing natural products from perennial Minnesota native plants to be used as antimicrobials and antioxidants in products such as lotion and shampoo. The presence of these plants on the landscape will help the environment by providing ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and erosion control and economic value will be obtained by sustainably harvesting above ground material from which to extract natural products. This link, while currently being made with MN native plants, can be extended to any ecosystem using local plants, as potential sources of active compounds, in a perennial agricultural system.
What are you working on right now? Right now I am using bioassay-guided fractionation to isolate active compounds from a plant that may have implications for the personal care and cosmetic market. I am using an awesome new high resolution mass spectrometer (Q Exactive) as well as learning nuclear magnetic resonance (with the help of a very patient post-doctoral researcher) to solve the structures of some compounds that have formed beautiful crystals from my plant extract.
Why did you choose to study at the U of M? I chose the U of M because I liked the core mission of a land grant University. I also was drawn to living in the Twin-Cities, and was happy to be able to have access to the busyness and resources of a large University in a bustling metropolis, while spending most of my time on the peaceful and more rural feeling St. Paul Campus.
What are your plans once you finish your program? After I finish my program I plant to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship (possibly in warmer climates). The University has exposed me to enrichment activities having to do with the intersection of science and policy as well as the opportunity to be a student leader on graduate student governing bodies. Because of these experiences and my own interests I think I would like to continue to work in some capacity at the intersection of science and policy and will potentially pursue an AAAS fellowship or something similar.
(Just for fun) if you could meet any scientist/researcher past or present, who would it be and what would you want to know? I would want to chat with Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, she is the first Black woman to earn a PhD in Chemistry, which she did in 1947. There is so much I would like to ask her about her life and experiences during and after graduate school.