Oge Okpala prepares a tomato plant for research during her summer program with CROPPS in August.

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CROPPS spotlights 2023 Research Experiences for Undergraduates

The Center for Research on Programmable Plant Systems (CROPPS) announced the release of new student profiles, highlighting the achievements of five outstanding undergraduate researchers. The students – Dahlia Isabella Bolt, Lexi Ellis, Jack Greger, Oge Okpala and Kohl Perry – participated in 2023 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), a National Science Foundation program to involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs.

At CROPPS, these projects centered around the integration of science and technology to facilitate communication with plants. The 2023 REU cohort at CROPPS brought together students from across the country to Cornell's Ithaca campus for immersive research experiences conducted in labs at both Cornell and the Boyce Thompson Institute. The 2023 students came from American University, New York University, University of California at Berkeley, Tuskegee University and the University of Arizona.

The projects encompassed a wide range of topics, including mobile RNA clusters, the development of automated processes for plant tissue research, the implications of phosphorus in agriculture and the utilization of nanoparticles for plant gene delivery.

“One of the highlights of my internship has been the chance to work on a project that merges plant sciences with engineering principles,” said Ellis, an environmental science major at American University. “This unique approach has opened up new perspectives and challenged me to think creatively to enhance existing processes and explore novel solutions.”

Perry, a biology major at Tuskegee University, said the REU experience helped prepare him for his future path in science. “Cornell is an Ivy League school and I was able to go there and hold my own and feel like I belonged,” Perry said. “It was very empowering; it truly was life changing.”

Applications are now open for the summer 2024 REU program with CROPPS. The deadline to apply is February 6, 2024. For more information, visit the CROPPS website.

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