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Becoming a Scientist

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The last Tuesday of my sophomore year at Duke University, I strolled up and down a hallway filled with research posters. Students who have spent two semesters or more on an independent research project are have displaying displayed their work, proud of both the results they got and the experiments that didn’t work out. Professors, post-docspostdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergrads mill around the posters, asking questions and sharing ideas. I love this atmosphere, and can’t wait until I have the chance to present work of my own.

This summer, I’ll have the opportunity to dedicate ten 10 weeks to working in a plant science lab at the Noble Research Institute. This experience will help me see what a career in research is really like, and it will help me commit to my goals of being a scientist. I’m looking forward to conducting research on ammonium transporters in Setaria. Through studying development in Arabidopsis as my work study job at Duke, I’ve had a great experience working with plants. Plants are amazing organisms that have ways of sensing and adapting to their environment without a nervous system or the ability to move. They’re the first link in any food chain, responsible for storing atmospheric carbon into organic molecules that can be used for energy. I’m so excited to explore a different research topic in the same type of model organism I’ve come to admire, and I’m excited to meet a group of people that shares similar passions.

The Noble Research Institute is dedicated to linking research and agriculture, applying what’s discovered in labs to the field. This summer, I hope to complete a project that contributes to a larger goal of improving how farmers around the world are able to grow their crops. As the world population continues to increase, it’s becoming more and more important to use land and resources efficiently, and I’d like be a part of the groups of people working to find solutions to these problems.

Jessi Hennacy is a 2015 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Plant Science from Columbia, Maryland.