ASPB Member Spotlight – Beverly Agtuca

  • Title: Visiting Assistant Professor at Adams State University, ASPB Intern Conviron Scholars Program Teaching Assistant
  • Place of Work or School: Legume–Microbe Interactions
    Laboratory, University of Missouri
  • Member Since: 2017
  • Research Area: Interactions of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in legumes and nonlegumes

Note: This interview was originally published in the July/August 2019 Edition of ASPB News

What would you tell colleagues to encourage them to join ASPB?

ASPB is a diverse plant science community, where all members share the goal of communicating with one another to promote the growth of plant biology and solve worldwide problems in agriculture.

Anyone, including those who do not have expertise in plant science, can join the organization and attend its annual meetings to learn the most up-to-date research and instrumentation while networking with scientists. I am glad I joined ASPB because it helped me to be confident in the path I wanted to take for my future career and, most of all, to create innovative ideas for research.

Was someone instrumental in getting you to join ASPB?

Yes, my research PI, Dr. Gary Stacey, in graduate school at the University of Missouri encouraged me to join ASPB to gain professional development and opportunities to learn new information outside the classroom. Because of my dedication and perseverance in research, my PI encouraged me to present my work and results to the whole plant biology community. The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) also provided encouragement and funding for me to become an ASPB member during my undergraduate years. CSTEP’s purpose is to promote students’ academic success to help them prepare for their future professional career.

Have you enhanced your career, lab, research, or education using ASPB, the Plant Biology meetings, section meetings,, The Plant Cell, Plant Physiology, or Plant Direct?

Yes, of course! I went to Plant Biology 2017 in Hawaii as a third-year PhD student and attended workshops and concurrent symposia. I was able to gather ideas for prospective research projects from talking with other scientists in my field of study. In addition, I learned about the Conviron Scholars Program at the exhibit hall. I was eager to discuss this program with ASPB staff, who encouraged me to apply. While participating in this program, I had the opportunity to make new friends, meet with wonderful scientists, find a mentor who guided me in developing my future plan, and most of all participate in outreach and volunteer programs. ASPB introduced me to volunteering at the ASPB Education & Outreach booth at the National Science Teachers Association conferences in 2018 and 2019.

So yes, ASPB has enhanced my career and professional development. In addition, the community at the conferences got a chance to hear my perspective and feedback on what ASPB has done for me so they could share it with their students and peers.

In what ways has being an ASPB member been of value or importance in your career or education?

Being an ASPB member has helped prepare me for my prospective future career and education. As a Conviron Scholar, I was paired with a mentor, Dr. Aaron Wyman from Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan. We met once per month by videoconference and discussed a variety of topics, including how to write a CV, cover letter, and teaching philosophy; what questions I should expect in one-to-one and videoconference interviews; what tasks and opportunities are part of being a teaching professor; what differences there are between large universities and small colleges; and most of all, how to figure out what I want for my future career.

I received my PhD this past spring semester from the University of Missouri, and since then I have continued to benefit from the mentor–mentee relationship, which has given me huge confidence in applying for teaching assistant professor positions. As a result, I was recently offered, and accepted, a position at Adams State University at Alamosa, Colorado, as a visiting assistant professor and will be starting this coming August 2019.

How or why did you get into plant science?
I am a Filipino-American who was born in Queens and raised in Long Island, New York. When I was 8 years old, I visited my parents’ hometown in the Philippines. I saw how my parents had grown up in this developing country, where they had to grow and harvest a lot of plants for their everyday meals. When I visited there, I had to do these tasks as well with my siblings and other children, and I thought to myself that these were difficult responsibilities at such a young age. Since then, I have wanted to become a plant scientist so I could improve agriculture practices for developing countries, especially the Philippines.

What is your favorite thing about being a plant biologist?
I can garden and grow any plant I want for my house because of my plant biology knowledge!

What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are gardening and growing plants. I also love setting up plant–microbe demonstrations for families and children at farmers markets, elementary school events, state fairs, and park events with the University of Missouri’s Students for the Advancement of Plant Pathology graduate student association. The children enjoy learning about and looking at plants that are infected by nitrogen=fixing bacteria, nematodes, viruses, and fungi.

ASPB members share a common goal of promoting the growth, development, and outreach of plant biology as a pure and applied science. This column features some of the dedicated and innovative members of ASPB who believe that membership in our Society is crucial to the future of plant biology. If you are interested in contributing to this feature, please contact ASPB Membership at

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