UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A summer intern from Virginia State University — working in the lab of James Tumlinson, Ralph O. Mumma Professor of Entomology in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences — has presented an award-winning lecture in the Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Washington, D.C., on the research they conducted during their summer at Penn State.
In February 2018, Sheevah Amen won first place in the biological sciences division for her presentation, "Does the insect gut microbiome affect plant volatile release?" Amen's award marked the second consecutive year that an intern in Tumlinson's lab was honored at the event.
"Under our guidance, the students develop a research plan and experimental design here at Penn State and acquire the methods necessary to successfully continue their research at Virginia State University," said Tumlinson, director of the University's Center for Chemical Ecology.
In March, 2017, Mekiya Fletcher, from Virginia State, won second place in the Ecology and Environmental Science division for her oral presentation, "Plants stink but how do they smell?" Both students participated in the Penn State Summer Research Opportunities Program with fellowships supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
Over eight weeks these students were advised and mentored by Professor Sarah Melissa Witiak (a Penn State graduate in ecological and molecular plant physiology) at Virginia State and by Irmgard Seidl-Adams in the Tumlinson lab at Penn State. Since graduating from Virginia State, Fletcher was accepted into the post-baccalaureate research education program for minority students at the University of South Carolina and started her studies in July 2017.
The Emerging Researchers National Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Education and Human Resources Programs and the National Science Foundation. The conference is aimed at college and university undergraduate and graduate students who participate in programs funded by the National Science Foundation, including underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities.