New mentor program pairs students with scientists

Five students from Texas A&M University, including two from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, have been selected to participate in a new mentoring program sponsored by Bayer Crop Science.

Karina Morales and Catherine Danmaigona Clement, both doctoral Plant Breeding students, are part of the initial cohort of this program which pairs graduate students and post-docs with Bayer scientists who serve as mentors for the next year.

Karina Morales

Karina Morales is one of five Aggies selected for the Bayer Crop Science mentor program. (Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences photo)

Morales, who is studying genome editing in rice under the supervision of Dr. Michael Thomson, has been paired with Dr. Edward Cargill, Science Fellow and Applied Cell Biology Lead in the area of Plant Biotechnology.

She and Cargill initially connected at the Texas A&M Genome Editing Symposium where he was an invited speaker.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to learn more about careers in the industry and to receive advice from Dr. Cargill on science, career paths and life,” Morales said.

Danmaigona Clement is working under Drs. Jane Dever, Libo Shan and Steve Hague. Her research is focused on breeding cotton for resistance to fusarium wilt race 4 (FOV4) using molecular tools. She has been paired with Dr. Brian Gardunia, the Discovery Breeding Methodology Lead for corn, soybeans, canola, cotton and wheat.

Catherine Danmaigona

Catherine Danmaigona is one of five TAMU students participating in the Bayer Crop Science mentor program. (Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences photo)

“Part of my research approach includes comparative genomics of fungal wilt pathogens and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify resistant loci. Dr. Gardunia worked on cotton during his Ph.D. program in Dr. David Stelly’s lab and has vast knowledge in breeding and genomic selection,” Danmaigona said.

She and Gardunia meet every other week via webex to discuss her research and other professional development topics.

“I hope this program will help me maximize my time during my Ph.D. program and gain exposure to industry life so I will be better prepared for my career in the future,” Danmaigona said.

Students in the program also participate in professional development webinars and have “meet-ups” at the conferences during the year.

Texas A&M University is one of five schools participating in the program. Scientists are also metoring students from the University of Illinois, Iowa State University, University of Missouri, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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