Another year has come and gone and somehow it's been almost that amount of time since we've posted an update!!
It has been a busy year for the Sparks Lab! We continue to expand - welcoming a new researcher (Dave Griffin), a new postdoc (Jingjing Tong) and a new PhD student (Eva Birtell) to the lab over the last year. Looking ahead we have two new PhD students starting in the Fall (Joe Cristiano and Bali Singh) and another new researcher (Emily Kennebeck) starting in August! We are forever grateful to the funding agencies who believe in our work and the collaborators who push the bounds of our research that allow us to reach even great interdisciplinary heights!
With the hellos, we also have our farewells! Olivia Hazelwood, who has been with the lab since early 2020 pandemic days, graduate with a BS in Plant Science. She received the departmental faculty award for outstanding undergraduate in plant science and we couldn't be more proud of all she has accomplished! Her first publication was also accepted just a few short weeks ago (Publications)! We can't wait to follow along and see all of the awesome things that Olivia will accomplish in her career!
In other news, our summer intern numbers have also expanded dramatically! We have NINE interns joining us this summer. Four from the engineering side: Nicky Reigel, Het Patel, Sebastian Torres and Brandon Maravilla Garcia; five from the biology side: Emilia Pierce, Safiyya Haider, Austin Jensen, Taran Kermani and Mariela Alfaro Garcia. Major shout out to the Sparks Lab members who are spending their time mentoring these interns. We 💚 our interns!!!!
Stay tuned for summer fun pictures coming soon!
As always the summer has flown by and we find ourselves asking - where did the time go??? As we round out the end of our summer undergraduate researchers time in lab, we wanted to take some time to recognize them for their awesome achievements! This summer we had two incredible teams of summer undergraduates - the biology team and the engineering team. We are going to miss these awesome people so much!!!!
Olivia is a Plant Science undergraduate here at UD. She has been with the lab since early 2020 and stuck with us through the pandemic. This summer she was awarded a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Unique Strengths summer fellowship! Her summer research looked at the expression of maize mechanosensitive ion channels (MSL) in aerial and subterranean brace roots.
Miranda is a Plant Science undergraduate here at UD. This summer she tackled the challenges of working on our maize and sorghum fields. She tirelessly labeled plants, bagged sorghum, weeded our fields, and took meticulous phenotyping notes for postdoc Ashley Hostetler's project!
Talia is a Plant Science undergraduate here at UD. In a deviation from our normal work, Talia brought her own project to the lab! Talia has been investigating the metabolite profiles of two different pomegranate cultivars. She received the McNair Summer Scholars award to support this work. Special shoutout to Dr. Nox Makunga (Stellenbosch U) and Dr. John Chater (U Florida) who have made this summer project possible through providing protocols, pomegranates and helpful discussions!
Joe Cristiano, Anthony Jiang, Parker Grobe
We had an awesome team of engineers contributing to our work this summer. From left to right: Joe Cristiano is an undergraduate in Electrical and Computer Engineering here at UD; Anthony Jiang is an undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering here at UD; Parker Grobe is a 4+1 who is about to start his MS degree in Mechanical Engineering here at UD. I cannot say enough about how critical this team has been to our summer successes! They tackled a slew of problems - from our version of ROS no longer being supported to designing and building new test frames and so much more.