Student Spotlights

SD EPSCoR is shining a light on students who have excelled in academics and research studies at higher education institutions across South Dakota. These students have made significant contributions in their research labs or have been nominated as a breakout student in their field of study.

Graduate Students

spencer_sdsu_smallSpencer Schreier — South Dakota State University

Building off of his undergraduate plant science investigations in Associate Professor Senthil Subramanian’s lab at South Dakota State University, graduate student Spencer Schreier is researching the developmental regulation of soybean root nodules. Root nodules are symbiotic organs unique to leguminous plants that host bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen into plant-usable forms of nitrogen. In exchange, the plant provides the bacteria a carbon source and shelter from the environment. As demand for both yield and sustainable agriculture continue to increase, these symbiotic structures offer an attractive alternative to expensive and environmentally harmful nitrogen fertilizers. Read More…

suresh_smiling_smallSuresh Damodaran — South Dakota State University

Doctoral canidate Suresh Damodaran is working in the Subramanian lab at South Dakota State University (SDSU) to identify how nodules develop in roots of leguminous plants such as soybeans. Nodules develop on soybean roots as a result of symbiosis with rhizobium bacteria found in the soil. The plant allows these bacteria to enter into nodules and convert atmospheric nitrogen into a plant-usable nitrogen source. The biggest advantage of this biological process is that it helps the farmers by reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizers and also reducing pollution by reducing the excess fertilizer run-off. Read More…

menno_usdMenno Van Diermen — University of South Dakota

Bioinformatics and computational biology play a critical role in bioscience and biomedical research. As researchers design their experimental projects, one major challenge is to find the most relevant bioinformatics toolkits that will lead to new knowledge discovery from their data. University of South Dakota (USD) graduate student Menno Van Diermen is working with Dr. Etienne Gnimpieba and Carol Lushbough from USD Biomedical Engineering in the development of Bio-TDS (Bioscience Query Tool Discovery Systems. This system is being developed to assist researchers in retrieving the most applicable analytic tools by allowing them to formulate their questions as free text. Read more…

Undergraduate Students

annika-van-oosbreeAnnika Van Oosbree — Northern State University

Pre-med student Annika Van Oosbree is continuing her research on the benefits of probiotic supplementation. Probiotic supplementation has become increasingly popular as a means to naturally treat minor ailments and attain better overall health. In her research titled “Effects of Probiotics on Xenopus laevis Development”, Van Oosbree used Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum (two of the most common probiotics) and a combination of various species of probiotics to determine the effect on the development of Xenopus leavis (African clawed frog) embryos through cleavage, gastrulation and organogenesis. Read More….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKate Wollman — Northern State University

Kate Wollman, a biology and environmental science undergraduate student at Northern State University (NSU), is currently researching the effects of controlled burns adjacent to local steams on the stress in the aquatic invertebrate community. A macroinvertebrate is a macroscopic invertebrate found in various bodies of water.  Their presence and absence can present a more accurate picture of how the health of the stream is doing. Read More…

 

tori-biachTori Biach — Northern State University

Northern State University (NSU) biology and chemistry student Tori Biach is analyzing the molecular basis of how the plant pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, induces double strand breaks (DSBs) in the DNA of its host. Pseudomonas syringae has been shown to induce DSBs in the plant model system, Arabiodopsis thaliana. However, the molecular weapons that cause this damage are unknown. Double strand breaks are when both sides of the DNA double helix become severed and if left unrepaired, can result in entire segments of the chromosome becoming lost during cell division. Read More…