The University of Georgia has nine new Graduate Research Fellows this fall. Including two from the Integrated Plant Sciences department, Kelly Goode, Cohort 2019, and Summer Blanco, cohort 2021. The students received the prestigious awards from the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program, (GRFP), which recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines (STEM)who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.
Summer Rose Blanco is a doctoral student in plant biology. Blanco is fascinated by flowers and how they have evolved over time to have a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Her research aims to better understand how pollen develops in plants and how different pollen traits may influence the distribution and reproductive success of plant populations. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology with a botany option from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Following her undergraduate education, she took a position as a post-baccalaureate research assistant in the biochemistry and molecular biology department at Michigan State University. Her long-term career goal is to become a professor at a Minority Serving Institution. This award will allow her to craft collaborative and unique research ideas that contribute to the scientific literature and engage the general public.
Kelly Goode is a doctoral student in the Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics. She studies root-knot nematodes, microscopic roundworms that parasitize plants, which can cause massive yield loss and damage to almost every plant in the world. She looks at the interaction between root-knot nematodes and soybeans to understand how some plants can be resistant to these dangerous pathogens. She studied genetics at North Carolina State University as an undergraduate where she conducted research in the Christmas tree genetics program. She hopes to continue in academia in teaching or in extension programs. The GRFP award will grant her access to enhanced technologies that can provide better results to help soybean growers in the southern US. She has also expanded her work to assist in a survey of Georgia soybean growers to better understand their specific concerns relating to these nematodes.