Beverly and ASPB Conviron Scholars program 2017-2018

Beverly and ASPB Conviron Scholars program 2017-2018

Open to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students studying plant biology, the ASPB Conviron Scholars program delivers an experience intended to serve as a foundation for a career in plant science. Applications welcome from any country.  Students who apply to the program must be in good academic standing (verified by their Pl or department head) and must demonstrate a commitment to plant science. For the 2017-2018 program, a total of 21 students were chosen to participate in the ASPB Conviron Scholars program. For more information, please follow the link:

I was born in Queens, New York, United States of America and grew up at Holbrook, Long Island, New York. For my bachelor’s degree, I went to State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse. I am currently a 4th year candidate pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant, Insect and Microbial Sciences with a focus of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, U.S.A. As a graduate research assistant in the Legume-Microbe Interactions Laboratory lead by Dr. Gary Stacey, my research interest is on the symbiotic interaction of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in legumes/non-legumes. I am working on a collaborative research project with other colleagues from George Washington University, Washington, DC and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, Richland, WA U.S.A. Our project focuses on identifying unique, metabolic biomarkers associated with nitrogen fixation using Laser Ablation – Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (LAESI-MS) coupled with the 21 Telsa Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance (21 T FTICR). This is a very new application technology that can measure metabolites in fresh, living tissues. The ultimate goal of my project is to use this technology to sample the metabolic content of single, plant cells. This LAESI-MS and 21 T FTICR method holds tremendous potential for use in further studies of plant-microbe interactions, as well as other plant processes.

Beverly Agtuca is a Ph.D. student at the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri. Her research involves detecting the metabolic content of single plant cells associated with nitrogen fixation using Laser Ablation – Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry (LAESI-MS).

Her mentor was Dr. Aaron Wyman, an associate professor at the Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor MI.

“We concluded that I would like to apply for a job at a small industry for a few years and then focus on teaching at small colleges with a high emphasis on education and low on research. I got so much support from Dr. Wyman […].”

She interviewed Dr. Cintia Riberio from Monsanto who is in the Emerging Leaders Program, discussing the different roles to work in the industry/company side. She has written an abstract and recorded her presentation on her fascinating research. For her project, she developed an inquiry-based classroom activity called “Garden in a Glove”.

“I see happiness and excitement on children’s faces of all ages when I do scientific demonstrations as a volunteer in the past. However, for this independent project, I wanted to emphasize a demonstration of ‘plant growth and development’, for the children to understand and have fun with plant biology.”