My honors project focuses on the effects of the atmosphere on the growth of soybean plants using a unique method to control the environment, Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE).
FACE allows me to examine the effects that four atmospheric conditions have had on soybean plants grown outdoors, with all other environmental effects being constant. These plants have been grown with increased CO2 concentrations, increased O3 concentrations, increased CO2 and O3 concentrations and ambient conditions (control).
Using the electron microscope, I am examining the effect these concentrations have had on the mitochondria of cells and the morphology and characteristics of the chloroplasts. The results of this study would have far-reaching implications in the environment’s role in plant biology and the possible effects of further climate change on crop plants.
After taking an interest in electron microscopy, Professor Linda Dybas introduced me to this project, which is a continuation of one done in 2007 by Gifty Kusi, although with a slightly different direction.
I spend an average of 15 hours a week either in lab or working on gathering research and writing. The most challenging aspect of my honors project has been deciding on a single direction to take without biting off more than I can chew. The implications of my work have many different facets, and unfortunately I can only choose to focus on what I can fit in three terms.
This being said, the results of any of the directions I take will have many implications in terms of the environment and climate change. While I do not expect to continue my project in the future, the experience I have gained in research will definitely come into use when I begin my medical career.