Symposium Organizing Team
Nathan is in his 3rd year as a PhD student in Dr. Jianxin Ma’s lab. His research focus is to identify novel genes conferring resistance to Phytophthora Root and Stem Rot disease in soybean through fine mapping and molecular characterization. He graduated from Purdue with undergrad degrees in agronomy and agricultural economics in May 2021. After completing graduate study, Nathan is interested in a wide range of careers such as breeding, regulatory science, patent law, technology commercialization, and tech transfer. He is from Zionsville, IN.
BeKa (Rebecca) Leuschen-Kohl
BeKa Leuschen-Kohl is originally from Kansas City, MO. She is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the department of Botany and Plant Pathology studying bacterial pathogen recognition in tomato root systems. BeKa holds a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and is currently a USDA NIFA Fellow, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and Alfred. P. Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership Fellow. After graduation, she hopes to teach at a primarily undergraduate institution focused on mentorship and research opportunities for underrepresented students.
Emmanuel is a Liberian and graduate (BSc) of the EARTH University in Costa Rica with a BSc in Agronomical Science and a title as Agronomic Engineer. He also holds a postgraduate certificate from the Ohio State University, USA in Horticulture Science. He is currently a MS graduate student at Purdue University, reading horticulture science with emphasis in weed management technology. He is a student member of the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) and the North Central Weed Science Society of America (NCWSSA). His current research activities are directed to weed management in horticultural crops: specifically, vegetables (onions, banana pepper, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, etc.), fruits (watermelon, strawberry, cantaloupe and tomatoes), and other specialty crop like peppermint. He is interested in helping farmers solve problems of weed interference and maximizing crop yield.
Feyisayo is originally from West Africa, Nigeria, where she completed her bachelor's degree in plant biology at the University of Ilorin. She is a graduate student in the Botany and Plant Pathology program, where her research focuses on investigating the role of PIEZO in plant defense. She has a heart for science and research in agricultural development and believes bringing farmers closer to science and researchers will help in transforming agriculture and food security, hereby improving productivity. Her future career interest is in plant health, fighting against plant pathogens and increasing crop productivity.
Alejandra Armesto Goméz
Alejandra is from Bogota, Colombia, where she studied economics and business at the National University of Colombia. Currently, she works as a research assistant at the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. Alejandra is interested in pursuing a PhD in Agricultural economics, and some of her areas of interest are public policies, gender gaps and family businesses.
Denise Caldwell is from Lafayette, Indiana. She completed my BS in Horticulture Science and MS in Botany & Plant Pathology at Purdue University. She is a fourth-year PhD student where her area of research focuses on plant-pathogen interactions at the cellular level in Dr. Iyer-Pascuzzi's lab. She is excited to see what the future holds and is always looking for new opportunities.
Celia was born and raised in Honduras, where she graduated from the National University of Agriculture as an agronomic engineer. Currently, she is a visiting scholar at Purdue in the weed science lab with Dr. Stephen Meyers. Her goal is to apply for grad school once she finishes my internship, hopefully here at Purdue.
Chris is a Ph.D. student at Purdue University pursuing a degree in plant pathology under the direction of Dr. Guohong Cai of the USDA-ARS and Purdue. Specializing in genetic resistance to soybean seedling disease, Chris aims to leverage his knowledge of plant pathology, genetics, and breeding to help contribute to the future of sustainable and productive crop varieties.
After obtaining a BS in Agricultural Sciences and Production from Zamorano University (Honduras), Sofía started an internship in controlled environment agriculture at the University of Florida, where she subsequently worked as a lab technician. Sofía is currently pursuing a MS in horticulture at Purdue University at the Gómez lab focused on controlled environment agriculture, where she is evaluating how different environmental factors affect water loss of unrooted cuttings. She is interested in understanding how different environmental factors can be managed to optimize crop production and is particularly passionate about helping growers in the young plant industry solve production challenges.
Binod is a PhD student originating from Nepal. Binod previously graduated from Tennessee State University. His current research focuses on the use of RNAi technology for the management of fungal disease Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) in wheat. Binod's future career interests include being a full-time researcher, where he will apply the functional genomics and bioinformatics tools for the better devising of the adaptive traits in plants.
Jean Paul Iyakaremye
John Paul comes to Purdue from Rwanda, where her completed his undergraduate program in Horticulture. He is currently a graduate research assistant in Dr. Janeen Fields's lab working on cowpeas. His research focuses on quality protein improvement and tannins biosynthetic pathway analysis in cowpeas. After completing his PhD, he looks forward to working in academia as a university professor.
Luke Johnson is originally from West Lafayette, Indiana. His educational journey began at Purdue University, where he completed my undergraduate studies in agricultural and biological engineering. Currently, Luke is a first-year Ph.D. student with Dr. Ristroph. His primary research focus lies in exploring the use of nanocarriers for efficiently delivering organic actives, specifically in the context of abiotic and biotic stress applications. In the future, his aspirations revolve around pursuing a career within the industry, specializing in agrochemical delivery.
Amanpreet Kaur is a postdoctoral research assistant in the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University, working with Dr. Brian Dilkes. Her research focuses on analyzing gene expression patterns and genetic variation in maize in response to phytohormones. She obtained her PhD in Plant Biology at Purdue University and her BS and MS in Agricultural Biotechnology from Punjab Agricultural University, India.
Gunakeshari is from Nepal. She completed her undergraduate studies at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. Gunakeshari is currently working in the Purdue Innovation for Crop Storage (PICS) lab. Her research involves finding ways to improve hermetic storage system for controlling storage insect pests and maintaining quality of stored commodities. Her future career interest is to connect data science and entomology together to develop models for insect control.
Hannah from a small town in Pennsylvania called Oley, which is about an hour outside of Philadelphia. She also attended Purdue for her undergraduate degree, where she majored in Plant Genetics, Breeding and biotechnology. Hannah works in the Cankui Zhang lab in the department of Agronomy, and her research focuses on establishing Plantago as a model species for plant vascular biology research. She is not yet sure what career path she would like to pursue in the future, as she finds both industry and academia to be interesting.
George Meyer is a 6th year PhD student working in the Horticulture & Landscape Architecture Department under professor Dr. Joshua Widhalm. His research is in plant secondary metabolism. His project is on elucidating different resistance mechanisms to the allelochemical, juglone, which is synthesized in Black Walnut trees. He aims to find a career as a patent agent. He earned two bachelor’s degrees from the university of Missouri in Biochemistry and Plant Science.
Afiza Yasin Shaik
Afiza Yasin Shaik is from India. She is a graduate student in the department of agronomy and my major is plant breeding and genetics. She has a keen interest towards plant gene editing and tissue culture. Afiza is currently working with arabidopsis and quinoa transformation. After graduating, she would like to work in plant gene editing companies to enhance my skills on industrial production basis.
Karthik is an international graduate student from India pursuing his Ph.D. from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. He holds a master's degree in biotechnology from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and a Bachelor's in Biotechnology from PES University, India. Karthik's research focuses on the application of biological treatment to industrial wastewaters and resource recovery to work towards the goal of a circular bio-economy. In the future, he sees himself implementing sustainable technology to treat and save our natural water resources.
Wily is graduate student originally from Guatemala. He obtained his Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Science at Zamorano University in Honduras. Wily has also been a visiting research scholar at the University of Connecticut and Purdue University. His research here at Purdue focuses on understanding the relationship between Phyllachora maydis and Coniothyrium phyllachorae, pathogens associated with Tar Spot of corn.
Camila is originally from Colombia. She completed her undergraduate degree in Business Management and Public Accounting at the National University of Colombia. Her current research focuses on looking for ways to accelerate market growth throughout the agricultural value chain by understanding the comprehension of the drivers behind and obstacles to the adoption of diverse systems. Camila has been involved in topics that entail solving issues related to the economic viability of crop implementation and designing marketing strategies for different stakeholders. She has found it interesting how the food industry has a relevant role in the environmental impact and how resource management decisions can build more robust and sustainable routes.