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Priyamvada Voothuluru Appointed to American Society of Plant Biologists Membership Committee

Priyamvada Voothuluru

Priyamvada Voothuluru

Columbia, Mo. — IPG graduate student Priyamvada Voothuluru was recently appointed to the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Membership Committee.

The aim of the committee, according to Voothuluru, is to encourage greater participation in the Society. As the sole graduate student on the six-member committee, Voothuluru said her role is to be a "voice" for all students. "My hope is to represent student interests, such as graduate training and professional experience, and convey them to the administration."

For example, Voothuluru said, reasons to join a professional organization may be different for students than faculty. "Many new graduate students are unaware of the benefits of belonging to professional societies, like ASPB. The committee has to consider how to introduce students to ASPB and then about how to persuade them to choose ASPB over another professional society."

Cost of membership could also be a consideration. "Most students end up paying for membership to professional societies out of pocket," said Voothuluru. "The Society needs to be aware of the cost burden of not only membership but also travel to society meetings, which is one of the primary activities students participate in."

Currently, students make up 12 percent of the Society's membership. Voothuluru thinks it is important to increase student involvement. "The ASPB represents and promotes the voice of plant biologists," said Voothuluru. "Through membership and active involvement, students can promote the various activities of the ASPB and help in the growth and development of plant biology."

Voothuluru, who will serve on the committee for two years, thinks this appointment will also help with her future pursuits. "I am learning leadership and organizational skills that I'll need to be a contributing member of an academic institution."

As a graduate student in the Division of Plant Sciences and the Interdisciplinary Plant Group, Voothuluru is studying how plant roots respond during drought conditions. Drought is one of the most important causes of crop failure worldwide.

Voothuluru thinks growth responses of roots are vital to plant adaptation to drought. "Under drying conditions, plants rely on their roots to survive."

Under the direction of Professor Robert Sharp, she is currently using physiological and genomic tools to help uncover the biological mechanisms that regulate root growth in water stressed corn plants. Recently, she was invited to share results of her research at an international symposium on root biology.

"Through my research, I would like to contribute to durable resistance and sustainable agriculture especially in underdeveloped and developing nations around the world," said Voothuluru, who originates from Hyderabad, India.