This post is part of a migration of posts from our previous website.
Originally posted on September 20, 2019
Once again a post that starts with “where has the time gone”. I don’t know how time flies so fast, but it’s already Fall! Welcome to pumpkin spice everything (it really should be a national holiday). It was a busy summer in the Sparks lab as we embarked on our 3rd field season. Things seemed to run a little smoother this year then they have in the past (fingers crossed I didn’t just curse us). I got an email the other day saying it was my 3rd field season, so I should have everything figured out – HA! Maybe add a zero to that… Surely I will have it figured out by my 30th field season. 🙂
In addition to our regularly scheduled research, we hosted Dr. Mandy Rasmussen in the lab for a couple of months this summer. It was a busy trip, but very productive. Mandy introduced her expertise in physiology to our lab and we are hoping to have some exciting mechanics/physiology results soon. We also managed to submit a grant together and outline a couple of papers.
People-wise the Sparks lab welcomed a new postdoc in the mix in September – Adam Stager. Adam is probably familiar to you already. He’s been working with us as a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering for the past 2 years and we are delighted that he’s joining us for a postdoc. After major field-prep, Adam did the first deployment of our brace root phenotyping robot. There are still some kinks to be ironed out, but overall a successful first run!
We said goodbye to PSM student Josephina, who graduated and took a job at a local company. It is always sad to see lab members leave, but we could not be more happy for her with her new job! We are currently searching for a student to fill Josephina’s position (molecular regulation of root environmental responses). Hopefully there will be an advertisement out soon, but please reach out if you are interested! We are considering MS and PhD students.
Scientifically things are moving along. Last field season we looked at how brace roots contribution to plant anchorage (spoiler alert: it varies by genotype!) and we are repeating that experiment this year. Our goal is to wrap that into a publication sometime this Winter. We wrote a recent review that is available on arXiv (http://arxiv.org/abs/1909.08555), and are hoping for a resubmission of the brace root mechanical testing paper ASAP. Lots of work to wrap up and try to get out into the world! Just keep writing…
We are further delight to receive funding support as Co-PI on a NASA proposal recently award to Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi at Purdue University! Such fun and exciting science, and we get to use the new toy we built (giant 2D clinostat):
Last, but not least our lab is moving across campus early next year! Ahhhhhhhh. We’ll be occupying a new building on the University of Delaware STAR (Science, Technology, & Advanced Research) campus. This moves us closer to the rest of the College of Ag and our field/greenhouse spaces, which is really exciting. Staying optimistic that the move will result in minimal downtime and few problems. 😉
Happy Fall to you all!!!