GRAD Alumni Research Award 2014 Recipient: Jennifer Conrad, MCB

Jennifer Conrad is an MCB graduate student in the Schaller lab in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Technology has advanced to a point where we are generating massive amounts of data very quickly, and developing skills in complex data analysis has become a crucial part of being an effective scientist. The Frontier’s and Techniques in Plant Science Course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories was beneficial to my thesis research by training me in cutting-edge techniques which will be immediately applied to my thesis work in Eric Schaller’s Lab at Dartmouth. A key part of my project is to generate genome-wide information through high throughput sequencing methods that require multiple computational approaches for their analyses. Specifically, I will determine the suite of genes regulated by cytokinin mediated transcription factors as well as their specific DNA target sites and integrate these data sets using the computational methods I learned at CSHL to uncover fundamental information about a critical plant hormone. This year’s CSHL course was heavily focused on computational methodology, which has allowed me to approach my data more efficiently and be a valuable resource to other researchers at Dartmouth. The hands-on approach of the CSHL course provided me with essential training that I otherwise would not have access to and has contributed to my career as a plant scientist.

This course was also an excellent opportunity to network with top scientists in other fields whom I might otherwise have not encountered. Great scientists are able think outside their field of study and see the value of research beyond their immediate interests. The interactions I had during this course introduced alternative views of my own research and provided me with a better understanding of other fields of study in plant science. I am determined to be a more informed contributor to the scientific community and this course has played a pivotal role in helping to achieve this goal.