Major: Biology (cell, biotechnology and molecular biology emphasis)
Why did you apply to the REU/REV program?
This experience will help develop my skills, and it will be a good way to identify my interests and talents. I will gain vital knowledge that will never be taught in a classroom. It will also enhance my resume (which is key to getting into a good graduate school), and help me make professional contacts for future employment opportunities.
What is the purpose of your research?
We are studying the effect of essential oils on the germination and growth of B. bassiana to develop an eco-friendly replacement for pesticides. We are testing different combinations of the essential oil Borneol (taken from the Monarda plant) and the fungus Beauveria bassiana (which acts as a parasite to most bugs, and grows naturally in soil), to see how the germination and growth of the fungus is affected at various concentrations of the oil. This research is an initial step towards the production of an environmentally-friendly pesticide using the naturally occurring oil and fungus.
Tell us something we would be surprised to hear about your field of study:
The fungus, Beauveria bassiana, has the potential to grow inside plants, and make them resistant to insects and other pests. Researchers here at UTK have been successfully growing the fungus inside tomato, potato, corn, and other food crops. Our research has the potential to replace the chemicals that are used on our food today, and I think that will keep the public interested in our work.
What were your favorite parts of the REU/REV program?
The integration of two different fields, mathematics and biology, to tackle a problem and come up with answers was fascinating to me. So far, I have always been studying pure biology. The combination of math and biology was a new experience, and I enjoyed it.
What new experiences did you gain that have helped you today?
I was completely unaware of mathematical software, like Matlab and R, before the REU program. Now, I have a basic knowledge of operating these types of software. As a biology student, I believe that it has added to my skills. I also gained experience working in a diverse team, which will prepare me for my future.
Would you recommend our program to others?
Definitely. As an international student, I had a hard time finding the appropriate internship program that accepts foreign students. The opportunities provided for foreign students are limited, so I would definitely recommend students from Nepal [and other countries] to apply for this program.