NIU students honored for plant studies

By Sheryl Cajka

Two NIU students received honors for their outstanding work in plant physiology.

The American Society of Plant Physiologists presents two awards at its conference each year. For the first time, the society chose two NIU graduate students, Jaime Turner and Christina Heinkel, said Gabriel Holbrook, assistant professor of biological sciences.

Turner’s presentation, “Inhibition of Rubisco Activity by 2-Carboxyarabinitol 1-Phosphate During Soybean Leaf Development,” examined the regulation of Rubisco (the rate-limiting step in photosynthesis) in soybean plants, he said.

Heinkel’s presentation concentrated on resisting plant viruses by applying a sugar compound from an infectious fungus, and was titled, “Temperature Sensitivity of Induced Resistance by Mycolaminaran Against Tobacco Mosaic Virus.”

Over 60 delegates participated in the event and gave 15 minute talks to students and faculty from several major midwestern universities, Holbrook said.

In addition, they were judged by a panel of faculty members on clarity and quality.

“It’s quite a notable thing, since only two awards are given and they both went to NIU students,” he said. “It also provides a forum for people to present their research to colleagues.”

Turner said she graduated from NIU three years ago with her bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences and will complete her master’s program this May.

In addition, she began her research three years ago and is now working on it as part of her thesis, she said.

Heinkel also received her bachelor’s degree in biology from NIU three years ago. She said she worked on her research for two years as an undergraduate for an independent study program. Now she is carrying on the project to finish her thesis.

The society holds its midwest sectional meeting every year, and from 3,000 to 4,000 scientists and students from universities all over the world are invited to listen to research done in plant physiology, Holbrook said.