TPS-Fellow, Irene Gentzel, has recently been honored to become a USDA AFRI-ELI Predoctoral Fellow. Irene is a fourth year graduate student in Dr. Dave Mackey's lab, and is co-advised by Dr. Ana Alonso.
She heard about this fellowship opportunity through one of her current peers. To apply, Irene wrote a research proposal which was then reviewed by the USDA before being selected for funding.
"I'm very excited to have this opportunity, and look forward to interacting with other Fellows in Washington, D.C. at the annual project directors' meeting," Irene said in an email.
In her research, she is interested in studying how corn responds to the bacterial pathogen Pantoea stewartii, the causal agent of Stewart's Wilt Disease. In particular, she is focusing on corn metabolism and how it responds to infection by bacteria. To identify important metabolites associated with the disease, she will be using the LCMS/MS equipment at the Targeted Metabolomics Laboratory in Rightmire Hall.
"This work will ultimately give us a better understanding on the metabolic level of how P. stewartii causes disease in corn," Irene said.
Her career goal is to become a science writer with a focus on plants and agriculture. She has been trained in science but not journalism, so she applying for internships to gain experience in this area.
This two year fellowship, while focused on research, will provide her with additional experience in interacting with scientists, presenting data, and networking at conferences and meetings.