2017 PGRP Symposium marks finale of intern researchers’ summer

by | Aug 16, 2017

The Boyce Thompson Institute’s (BTI’s) 2017 class of summer interns wrapped up their summer by presenting research talks and posters at the 16th annual Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) Student Symposium on August 10th.

Now in its 16th year, BTI’s annual PGRP symposium provides a means for undergraduates and high school students to present their findings in a professional, engaging setting. This year’s symposium was the first to be live-streamed by the Institute, allowing supporters to engage with interns from afar.

This summer, the PGRP program hosted 26 undergraduate and seven high school students for a summer of hands-on lab work at BTI, Cornell University and the USDA Holley Center. In addition, 10 students from a second REU program at Cornell University, titled “Molecular Biology and Genetics of Cell Signaling” (MBG-REU), presented their research during the symposium’s poster session.

“It’s been amazing to watch this year’s interns become confident in their research, build their presentation and communication skills, and learn the importance of collaboration with their peers,” according to Delanie Sickler, BTI Education and Outreach Coordinator. “We were also lucky to have more than 35 mentors agree to spend their summer guiding our interns every step of the way.”

Click here to view live-stream footage from the symposium

PGRP Acknowledgements

BTI would like to recognize all faculty, sponsors, principle investigators, mentors, and  lab members for their dedication to the PGRP program and this year’s intern class.

The undergraduate internship program is supported by the National Science Foundation through a Research for Undergraduate Experiences (REU) award grant to Georg Jander, BTI Professor and PGRP Project Leader, and Jian Hua, Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell University.

This year’s high school internship program and symposium was supported by contributions from the Ithaca Garden Club, the J.M. McDonald Foundation, Robert and Roberta Kohut, the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County, the National Science Foundation’s REU Program, Rheonix Inc., and Carolyn W. Sampson. 

Symposium Awards and Winners

A panel of BTI staff judges selected the 2017 winners for best scientific presentation and poster. The winners and honorable mentions are:


First Place: Arianna Nimocks, Jander Lab, “Determining the functions of herbivore-inducible maize genes in defense against Spodoptera exigua

Runner-Up: Stephanie Brocke, Roeder Lab, “Differential cell growth in Arabidopsis fruit and its relation to FUL”


 First Place: Anna Yaschenko, Mueller Lab, “Characterizing long non-coding RNA in the Asian citrus psyllid through genome annotation and molecular biology”

Runner-Up: Matthew Szarzanowicz, Martin Lab, “Using VIGS to investigate the role of the Mai1 protein in plant immunity”

Symposium Photos

In Their Own Words: Internship Experience

In their own words, here’s what interns had to say about their experiences at BTI:

Caroline Taylor“I was part of the PGRP high school summer internship program for the summers of both 2016 and 2017.  My first summer, I was surprised to learn that I would be doing more than shadow my mentor, but complete and present my own research project. [This] summer was a different experience, but still very worthwhile. I learned more lab procedures, but I also had a higher level of interaction with the other people in my lab.”

2016 and 2017 BTI Intern Caroline Taylor, Lansing High School student

“My experience as a summer REU intern has been phenomenal.  I’ve made friends and contact that will help me through my academic career and beyond.  As a horticultural student with no experience in genetic or molecular work, being part of a large and supportive lab has given me exposure to techniques and equipment that I wouldn’t have thought possible at this stage.  Having a mentor that guided me through
basic lab processes then allowed me to determine experimental paths has given me confidence and a sense of ownership that will aid in my future as a researcher…This past summer has been invaluable in so many ways that it’s impossible to fit on this page!”

2017 BTI Undergraduate Intern Patrick Mendoza, Iowa State University

“I was attracted to BTI’s PGRP internship not only by BTI’s extensive influence in the field of genomic plant research but also by Cornell’s overarching dedication to the plant sciences….What’s special about this internship is that I’ve had the pleasure to observe and experience what it takes to perform serious scientific endeavors….This experience has helped to greatly expand my network of human resources which includes not only the individuals in my lab, but also my fellow interns and the strong friendships we have forged during our time here.”

2017 BTI Undergraduate Intern Alex White, California State University, Long Branch


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