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Rising Scholars: PRL undergraduate students showcase research at 2023 UURAF

Undergraduate researchers from six MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) groups participated in the 2023 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF), three taking home first-place awards for their poster presentations.

The annual event brings together MSU undergrads from across the university to present their research or creative activities to faculty, staff, students and the general public. For the PRL undergraduate researchers, their poster presentations allowed them to explain their scholarship and answer questions.

Joy Li holds up a certificate with two people around him
Joy Li
By Dave Trumpie

This year’s event took place April 14th with in-person events taking place at the Breslin Center and online at Symposium by ForagerOne.

“I think this was good practice for me for the future,” said Joy Li, graduated this spring. “Being able to explain the relevance of molecular biology research concisely to a general audience will always be an important skill for scientific communication.”

The ten PRL students who participated are as follows:

  • Marionna Bigelow from the Kerfeld lab majoring in Genomics and Molecular Genetics, presented research, “Carotenoid proteins involved in cyanobacterial photoprotection.”
  • Katy Evans from the Brandizzi lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Biotechnology, presented research “Generation and identification of Arabidopsis high order mutants.”
  • Caleb Fisher from the Sharkey lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, presented research, “Exploring the kinetic properties and post-translational modifications of plastidic phosphoglucoisomerase from Arabidopsis thaliana.”
  • ─░layda Korkmaz from the Benning lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Political Science presented research, “Heterologous production of proteins involved in chloroplast lipid metabolism to determine phosphatidic acid phosphatase activity.”
  • Violet Lefrancois from the Sharkey lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, presented research, “Functional validation of isoprene synthase gene IspS in soybean (Glycine max).”
  • Joy Li from the Hu lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Biotechnology, presented research, “Photosynthetic screen of cowpeas under photorespiratory conditions.”
  • Rohith Nadella from the Vermaas lab majoring in Human Biology, presented research, “Interaction of lipid droplet associated proteins with plant membranes and wax esters explored with molecular simulation.”
  • Dayna Olson from the Vermaas lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, presented research, “Lipid specificity of the drought stress signaling protein PLAFP.”
  • Troy Sievertsen from the Vermaas lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, presented research, “Sorgoleone permeability through molecular dynamics simulations.”
  • Allen Trevizo from the Brandizzi lab majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Biotechnology, presented research, “The role of Aureochrome blue light photoreceptor proteins in Nannochloropsis.”
Dayna Olson stands with a poster
Dayna Olson
By Susanne Hoffman-Benning

Three students – Marionna Bigelow, Dayna Olson and Joy Li – took home first-place awards in their respective categories for their poster presentations.

“It was great getting to talk to people about my research project, especially other Biochemistry and Molecular Biology professors and researchers who offered additional insight,” said Dayna Olson. “I also enjoyed getting to look at other student presentations and learn about the all the different research going on at MSU.”


To see a full list of participants, visit https://urca.msu.edu/files/forums/44/booklet/UURAF%202023%20Program%20Book.pdf.

To see a full list of awardees, visit https://urca.msu.edu/files/forums/44/award/UURAF.2023.AwardWinners-v2.pdf.

To see all photos from the event, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/196229958@N08/albums/72177720307616909

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