Simulated Herbivory Induces the Production of Extrafloral Nectaries in Prunus Avium
Plants tend to work together with other organisms in order to thrive. In my research, I studied the mutualistic relationship between ants and cherry trees. It seems that when cherry trees are damaged by herbivores, they tend to produce more extrafloral nectaries in order to attract ants, which in turn drive away the herbivores that are creating the damage.
Alissa Packer, assistant professor of biology
Dr. Packer has not only been my mentor for my research project, she has also helped me with my academic schedule. She has been incredibly supportive. She pushed me to become a stronger researcher and scientist by having me present our research at several science conferences prior to Senior Scholars Day. She also trusted me to come up with my own project ideas this year, which is something I would not have been confident doing as a freshman.
I have been working on this particular research for all of my junior and senior year, so Dr. Packer and I have spent many hours researching project ideas and finding background information. Then I did the actual planting and caring for the plants, which included taking data on the plants until the experiment was complete. Dr. Packer and I also wrote and submitted a paper that details our research to a science journal Functional Ecology. We just recently learned that it has been accepted for publication, which is really exciting.
I've become much more patient with scientific research. With plants, you never know what's going to happen. Seeds might not germinate or bacteria might infect the greenhouse and ruin your experiment, but you learn to deal with these setbacks and start the experiments over again.I have also definitely become more confident in my ability to explain my project to others; when I first began, I was always nervous I would leave something important out. Now I feel like I know the ins and outs of extrafloral nectaries and plant mutualisms. It's something that I would not have expected to know so intimately when I started college four years ago.
I loved my research experience at Susquehanna but I am going in a different path in the science field. In the fall, I will be starting medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.