Plant Genomics Program Offers Students Research Experience

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MSU will use a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to fund a 10-week summer research program designed to provide intensive experience for undergraduate students in areas such as biochemistry, genetics and cutting-edge biological science methods.

The $282,606 grant will allow 30 students to participate in Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Plant Genomics. REU sites are funded by the NSF to provide research opportunities for undergraduate students.

“The plant genomics REU allows students to work alongside internationally respected scientists who are leaders in their fields,” said Rob Last, MABR biochemistry and molecular biology scientist and project co-leader. “The students are involved in research spanning bioinformatics and functional genomics to analytical chemistry and metabolic biochemistry.”

The program builds on the success of a five-year-old summer program ( Funding previously was provided by the university and individual NSF and Department of Energy research grants; the program has hosted 60 students from more than 30 institutions across the country.

“The REU program teaches research skills and emphasizes research ethics,” said Richard Allison, MABR plant biology researcher and the other project co-leader. “The program combines effective use of literature, Web-based resources and presentation skills as a way to improve critical thinking skills.”

The plant genomics REU is open to students entering their junior or senior year of studies in biology, chemistry, engineering and computational sciences.

In addition to Last’s lab, where students work on chloroplast biology and plant metabolism, other MABR researchers participating are Cornelius Barry, Christoph Benning, Robin Buell, Dan Jones, Tom Sharkey and Kevin Walker. Other MSU faculty members participating are Eva Farre, Jianping Hu, Beronda Montgomery-Kaguri and Shinhan Shiu. Each faculty member will serve as a mentor and assist the students in producing research to complement their lab activities.

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