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Having a Gas in Science

Lauren Donnelly is a senior in BCMB and has been conducting research in the lab of Brad Binder for just more than a year and a half. She is studying the role that the gas ethylene has in regulating the attachment of the plant-associated bacterium Azosprillum brasilense to the roots of plants. A. brasilense is used agriculturally to promote plant growth and yield. Ethylene is a plant hormone well known for its role in fruit ripening, but very little research has examined its roles in bacteria. This project represents an opportunity to understand cross-kingdom communication important in establishing host-microbe interactions.

 Donnelly won a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from the UT Office of Undergraduate Research which allowed her to carry out more complex and time-consuming experiments this past summer. Donnelly recommends other undergraduate students find a lab and participate in research.

 “Faculty mentored, independent research is a unique academic experience that challenges you differently than the classroom,” she said. “Participating in research allows you to conduct experiments outside of the perfectly curated experiments seen in other lab classes. As a result, you have the opportunity to think through problems and create solutions. My time in the lab has allowed me to form friendships and create memories throughout my undergraduate experience.”