What brought you to UGA? UGA stood out from other universities because of the IPS program and the number of faculty members conducting research on plant-microbe interactions. A rotation program was of great interest to me, and UGA had the best established and organized program I was showcased when I was undergoing graduate school interviews.
What are your research/study interests? I am interested in studying the soil microbiome and its impact on soil and plant health. I conduct my research with the purpose that my studies will better inform agricultural practices by improving soil fertility, crop productivity, and agricultural sustainability. Thus, my research focuses on studying calcite-dissolving bacteria and their role in calcium cycling.
What has been a benefit of being part of IPS?/How did it help you select your program? The biggest benefit to IPS is experiencing a lab’s culture and gaining a preview into the mentoring style of professors you’re interested in. I picked the professors I wanted to do rotations with based primarily on their research, so I knew I would be passionate about my work. The 5-week rotations are perfect for gaining research experience in each lab without the pressure to synthesize a project and produce results by the end. It felt more like a job-shadow experience which reduced the stress and pressure of being in a lab and instead allowed me to focus on building relationships with other lab members and the professor to see if I would be a good fit.
What are your career goals? I am interested in pursuing a career in science education. I hope to become a professor at a liberal arts college where I can put the majority of my efforts into teaching but still conduct research and provide undergraduates with a space to gain research experience and explore their interests. Overall, I want to pursue a career path emphasizing science communication to help bridge the gap between the science community and the general public, spark curiosity or interest in younger generations, or help inform officials in policy making.
Who is your major professor? Dr. Li Yang.