2018 PGRP Symposium marks finale of intern researchers’ summer

by | Sep 18, 2018

Group photo of the 2018 BTI summer interns in front of the BTI building

The Boyce Thompson Institute’s (BTI’s) 2018 class of summer interns wrapped up their summer by presenting research talks and posters at the annual Plant Genome Research Program (PGRP) Student Symposium.

Now in its 17th 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 live-streamed by the Institute, allowing supporters to engage with interns from afar.

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. The program is also supported by the United States Department of Agriculture through a Research Extension Experience for Undergraduates (REEU) awards to Georg Jander and Scott McArt, Professor in the School of Integrated Plant Sciences.

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 judges selected the 2018 winners for best scientific poster and presentation. The winners and honorable mentions are:

PresentationGroup photo of Symposium winners with their prizes

  • First Place: Evelyn Abraham “Development of tools for structural analysis of plant membrane proteins”
  • Runner-Up: Allyson Weir “Functional characterization of the tomato sugar transporter SWEET10”


Undergraduate Poster

  • First Place: Christopher Neely “Pan-genomic analysis of Solanum habrochaites, a wild tomato plant”
  • Runner-Up: Autumn Hurd “Determining the cause of host specificity of Xanthomonas vasicola pv. musacearum and Xanthamonas vasicola pv. vasculorum”


High School Poster

  • First Place: Carolyn Jessop “Aphid produced auxin in the response of Arabidopsis thaliana to aphids”
  • Runner-Up: Hayley Ackerman “A QTL containing maize ETHYLENE INSENSITIVE 2 regulates two antifungal metabolites and resistance against a common fungal pathogen, Fusarium graminearum”

In Their Own Words: Internship Experience

Headshot of April Wendling “Over the last ten weeks, I’ve gained so much from this research experience. My mentor has taught me a variety of new lab techniques and procedures, and challenged me to become a better problem solver and a more independent researcher. It has been incredibly rewarding to work through the entire research process from start to finish. Additionally, this program has given me the resources and connections to feel confident in applying to graduate school. I’ve had the chance to network with numerous graduate students, professors, and other faculty, who were more than happy to help guide me and answer my questions. It’s been wonderful to be surrounded by so many great people who share my passion for plant biology and research. I’ll cherish the experiences I’ve had here for a long time.– April Wendling, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Headshot of Serena Stern “As the Science Communications PGRP Intern, I had a packed summer full of education and practice. I learned new techniques in media creation and editing, technical writing, social media curation, and research while also having unique experiences I could not have at another internship. Working directly with a mentor was rewarding and personal, making the experience seem exciting rather than daunting. I learned more than I could have imagined from my colleagues and peers, and I met with science communication professionals weekly to talk about careers and graduate school. Between seminars, workshops, a graduate student panel, a bioinformatics course, and more, the diverse experiences offered made the summer feel dynamic and educational. I feel humbled to be the first Science Communications Intern, and I hope to utilize the skills I gained this summer to continue pursuing my passion of educating people about science and the intricacies of communication!” – Serena Stern, Cornell University
Headshot of Emmanuel Gonzalez “My experience here at BTI has been truly invaluable. I gained hands-on experience with research techniques, analytical equipment, and experimental design. The weekly seminars, many talks with mentors/lab members, and reading primary research broadened my knowledge in various plant science topics. My mentor and I worked closely to design and modify my summer project. He encouraged me to take the lead and conduct most parts of project myself, but he was always available if anything was unclear. This approach allowed me to analyze each protocol critically and become familiar with my project’s experimental methods. I developed a confidence in my ability to conduct meaningful research and strengthened my interest in attending graduate school. I feel ready, more than ever before, to pursue a fruitful career in plant science.” – Emmanuel Gonzalez, Pacific Lutheran University

Visit our Alumni page to learn about all of our summer intern’s experiences!

Subscribe to BTI's LabNotes Newsletter!



Boyce Thompson Institute
533 Tower Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14853

Copyright © 2023 | Boyce Thompson Institute | All rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy