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IPG Student Named Student Ambassador By American Society of Plant Biologists

Priya Voothuluru

Priya Voothuluru studies regulation of root growth in corn grown under drought conditions.

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Priyamvada Voothuluru, a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Plant Group at the University of Missouri, is one of only fifteen students nationwide named a Student Ambassador by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

The ASPB established the Student Ambassador Program to help promote plant biology at the graduate level, promote the benefits of belonging to a professional society for graduate students, and to provide an effective voice for graduate students in the operations and governance of ASPB. In conjunction with her appointment, for example, Voothuluru will attend the ASPB annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, next year, where she will be given the opportunity to network with other graduate students, present her research and to interact with plant biologists from across the world.

It is those opportunities—to network with others and to present her research—that drew Voothuluru to the ASPB initially, and it is what she will share with her fellow students. "Networking is so important as you get ready to graduate and move on with your career," she said.

When selecting Student Ambassadors, the ASPB looks for graduate students who are involved in their universities, show a passion for the profession and research, and are outgoing, according to Melvin Oliver, faculty chair of the Student Ambassador program and adjunct professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at MU.

"Priya exhibits all these qualities, and she came highly recommended by the faculty," said Oliver. "She is a natural choice."

Voothuluru's activities as a student have also included student representative on the Interdisciplinary Plant Group's Executive Committee and on a seminar committee in the Division of Plant Sciences. She also organizes "Plant Talks," a weekly discussion series for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who study plants.

Originally from Hyderabad, India, Voothuluru is currently in her fourth year of her doctoral program in the Division of Plant Sciences. She is interested in understanding how plants respond to biotic and abiotic stresses. For her dissertation research, she is working with Professor Robert Sharp on the regulation of root growth in corn grown under drought conditions.

The Interdisciplinary Plant Group is a professional community of MU faculty, students, and professionals from a range of scientific disciplines who are pursuing novel, creative and transformative ideas in the field of plant biology. More information about the IPG can be found at