Announcing the 2019 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 2020. Congratulations to these 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows and their mentors:

SURFers from Doctoral Granting Institutions


Tayah Bolt, University of California Davis

Project: Fungal Toxin Influence Over Transcriptional Regulation of the Plant Shikimate Pathway

Mentor: Dr. Daniel J. Kliebenstein



Ava Heller, Ohio University

Project: Characterization of AHA2 at the Interface of Gravitropism and Phototropism

Mentor: Dr. Sarah E. Wyatt


Jeremiah Lukes, University of Vermont

Project: Is the retromer required for polarized cell growth in Brachypodium distachyon?

Mentor: Dr. Mary L. Tierney


Viviana Martinez-Martinez, Universidad Politecnica de Pachuca

Project: Studies of the function of miR156 in plant embryogenesis using genome editing

Mentor: Dr. Stewart Gillmor


Suprene Mohamedzein, Wake Forest University

Project: High Temperature Induced Reactive Oxygen Species and Stress Response in Arabidopsis thaliana

Mentor: Dr. Gloria Muday


Bo Price, Utah State University

Project: Verifying signaling pathways that induce apomixis de novo in Arabidopsis

Mentor: Dr. John G. Carman


Benjamin Styler, Brown University

Project: Understanding thermotolerance in crop plants: investigating genetic variation of the unfolded protein response in vegetative tissue and pollen tubes

Mentor: Dr. Mark Johnson


Samantha Surber, University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Project: Cytosolic acidification effect on freezing tolerance through investigation of proton pump inhibition

Mentor: Dr. Rebecca Roston


Ashley Turner, University of Florida

Project: Effects of high pH stress on oxidative status in Rhododendron roots

Mentor: Dr. Gerardo Nunez


Paige Wiebe, Kansas State University

Project: Niche divergence in big bluestem grass ecotypes in response to experimental drought: Mechanisms of local adaptation

Mentor: Dr. Loretta Johnson


Kwan Yoon, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Project: Applying CRISPR/Cas9 to Unveil the Role of the Early Nodulins in Nitrogen-Fixing Symbiosis

Mentor: Dr. Dong Wang


SURFers from Primarily Undergraduate Institutions


Kristen Edgeworth, Kenyon College

Project: Assessing the Functional Conservation of ELF3-like and COP1-like Proteins from Bryophytes to Angiosperms

Mentor: Dr. Karen A. Hicks


Malay Nanavaty, The College of New Jersey

Project: Uncovering the Biochemical Function of CYP72A14 in Plant Stress Metabolism

Mentor: Dr. Leeann E. Thornton


Claire Ravenburg, James Madison University

Project: Investigating a putative dual-function β-amylase gene in rice

Mentor: Dr. Jonathan Monroe

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