13 December 2023

Outstanding Undergrad

Plant molecular biology research earns SACNAS recognition

Outstanding Undergrad

By David Christopher

Two years ago, Alena Albertson never thought she’d have the once-in-a lifetime experience of presenting cutting-edge research at a conference, let alone winning an award. But that’s exactly what happened recently.

Alena, a Native Alaskan who is majoring in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, received an outstanding presentation award for her research and presentation skills at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science conference in Portland, Oregon. She also received UROP travel funding to attend and present her research on “Investigating Heat Stress and Unfolded Protein Response-signaling Pathways in Plants.”

“If we identify the major contributors to the plant heat stress response, we can then manipulate gene and protein expression to make more heat-tolerant plants,” Alena says. “I think this knowledge will be really important in the future to address feeding our growing population in the face of climate change.”

I am very proud of Alena, who hopes to enter graduate school to continue her plant biology research. She gives special thanks to Ph.D. candidate Rina Carrillo in MBBE.

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