Announcing the 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF)

The ASPB Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) program funds promising undergraduate students so they can conduct research in plant biology during the early part of their college careers over the course of 10 consecutive weeks. This year’s SURF recipients will present their research at Plant Biology 2018. Congratulations to these 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows and their mentors:

SURFers from Doctoral Granting Institutions

Samantha Connolly, University of Vermont

Project: Determining the Function of NPF1A in Lotus japonicus

Mentor: Dr. Jeanne M. Harris


Cameron Criswell, Texas A&M University

Project: Understanding Plant Cell Death With “bak to life” Screens

Mentor: Dr. Ping He


Max Hagelthorn, UC Davis

Project: Functional Characterization of Stress-Inducible Diterpene Synthases in Switchgrass

Mentor: Dr. Philipp Zerbe


Christopher Imler, University of Florida

Project: Genetic and biochemical evidence for direct rhizosphere acidification in Vaccinium corymbosum

Mentor: Dr. Gerardo Nunez


Victoria Morris, University of California, Riverside

Project: Microtubule Dynamics in Cell Division using Maize Tangled1

Mentor: Dr. Carolyn Rasmussen


McKenzie Pickle, University of California, Riverside

Project: Role of Microtubule Dynamics in Cell Division using Maize tangled-1 Mutant

Mentor: Dr. Carolyn Rasmussen


Angus Rae, University of Newcastle, Australia

Project: Measuring Cell Wall Anisotropy in Arabidopsis Roots Using Polarised Fluorescence

Mentor: Dr. David Collings


 Alex Riley, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Project: System Genetics of Rhizobium Mutualists of Varying Partner Quality

Mentor: Dr. Amy Marshall-Colon


Elizabeth Winnicki, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Project: Analyzing the Genetic Diversity of the Varieties of Sweet Potato Found in Hawaii & North America

Mentor: Dr. Michael Kantar


Robert Yvon, University of Massachusetts

Project: Discovering the Connections of the FERONIA Receptor Kinase and its Functional Partners in Arabidopsis

Mentor: Dr. Alice Cheung



SURFers from Primarily Undergraduate Institutions

Patricia Goytortua, Instituto Politécnico Nacional

Project: Effect of having a PT or Pising allele associated with lipid metabolism of maize plants grown in Mexican Highland conditions

Mentor: Dr. Rubén Rellán-Álvarez


Kenneth Kim, University of West Georgia

Project: Molecular characterization of two high light sensitive Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutants, defective in a novel functionally uncharacterized gene

Mentor: Dr. Mautusi Mitra


Tayler Lewis, Radford University

Project: Computational Modeling of the AS1/AS2 Complex

Mentor: Dr. Tara Phelps-Durr


Lauren Pope, James Madison University

Project: Structural and Physiological Characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana β-Amylase 2: a Unique Starch-degrading Enzyme

Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Monroe


Jennifer Walz, University of St. Thomas

Project: Determining the role of xanthophyll cycle dynamics and thermal energy dissipation in the desiccation tolerance of common bryophytes in Minnesota

Mentor: Dr. Amy Verhoeven

2 thoughts on “Announcing the 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF)”

  1. Amazing, these students are at the top of their level and I wish them the best in their endeavors as they pursue their goals. Plant biology is a huge and growing field, maybe these kids will make one the biggest discoveries yet. They all look like star students and once again I wish them the best. 🙂

  2. I had no idea this was a fellowship that extended worldwide. I am so proud of not only my daughter Lauren Pope but each and every student who received this prestigous award. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL.


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