Name: Erica Gremel
Hometown: Sebewaing, MI
Major / Concentration: Crop and Soil Sciences
Adviser: Dr. Karen Renner
Why did you choose this major and concentration?
I loved growing up on a farm, and want to give back to an industry that has given so much to me.
What are your future plans?
To become an agronomist focusing on precision agriculture and making appropriate fertilizer recommendations to local farmers and possibly return to work on the family farm
What or who inspired your interest in your program?
Growing up on a farm has instilled a passion for agriculture, and through FFA and 4-H I gained more knowledge of agromony and knew that I wanted to learn more.
What has been the best experience in your major so far?
Learning about the different farming practices across the state of Michigan, and gain hands on experience through my summer internships. This allows you to apply what you learn in the classroom on an everyday basis.
Why did you choose Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences?
I choose PSM because it covers everything I need to know to be a successful agronomist and farmer. The professors in the department are great to work with and my advisor, Dr. Karen Renner, makes sure that your time at Michigan State University is successful and rewarding.
Name: J. Alejandro Rojas
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia
Major Professor: Dr. Martin Chilvers
In what lab do you work in and what are you researching?
Field crop pathology; focus on the fungal/oomycete genetics and biology. My current project covers different aspect of the oomycetes ecology and biology in the context of multidisciplinary project funded by USDA-NIFA. My project started with the characterization of the different oomycete species associated with soybean seedling diseases across the soybean producing area in the Midwest. We conducted survey using a culture-based approach and collected metadata to determine diversity-driving factors. My project also profile the pathogenicity/virulence of 82 different oomycete species found and I am also working on the development of molecular diagnostics, including quantitative PCR and isothermal PCR. In addition, the project also involves the development of amplicon-based community analyses to understand the diversity of oomycete species in soybean fields associated with disease at early plant stages.
Future career plans:
My career has been focus on fungal and oomycete biology, so my plan is to keep addressing questions about the biology and genetics of these organisms employing tools such as genomics, metagenomics, population genetics and phylogenetics. I hope to continue working in the academia or industry to continue developing research on this area to help solve some of the questions that we have about oomycetes and their interaction with different plant systems.
What program are you in?
I am in the Plant Pathology program within the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.
What or who inspired your interest in Plant Science, Soil Sciences, Plant Pathology, Plant Breeding and Genetics or Other? My major for my undergrad was microbiology and that gave me the opportunity to have exposition to different fields including plant pathology and mycology, during this process I had the opportunity to work with very intelligent and supportive mentors that guide through my process, who taught me very well and cultivated in my the love for science, but specially the love for fungi and oomycetes! Dr. María Caridad, Dr. Silvia Restrepo and Dr. Adriana Bernal were the ones that supported my career and many other students in this area. Since then different has play important role in my career including my other advisors, Dr. Kirk and currently Dr. Chilvers, who has really supported all my work and gave an great opportunity to work in such a large and interesting project addressing different questions that relate to my interest in these organisms and their role in the agriculture.
What has been your best experience in your program listed above?
There is not one, but many experiences that I would like to mention. However, the program itself has given me the opportunity to interact with different researchers from my field and other fields opening my perspective of how a multidisciplinary approach can address issues that we think that only present in our filed. My current project is the best example since it is part of grant that involves plant pathologists, breeders, geneticist, molecular biologists and even economists that try to address the impact of oomycetes in an important crop such as soybean.
Why did you choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences?
First of all, MSU is pioneer land grant college and PSMS is multidisciplinary department that could play an important role in the career of an aspiring researcher broadening my experiences. The department allows students to pursue research projects in a wide array of agricultural settings including microbiology, ecology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and beyond. These factors and diversity inspired me to choose Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences.