This summer, Jerlin Garo ’18, Brianna Hurysz ’20 and Jonathan Thrall ’19 are participating in a state-of-the-art research experience at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva. The station is known for working to safeguard New York’s production of fruits and vegetables, developing new crops, enhancing food safety for consumers and promoting economically viable farming solutions.
Garo, a biochemistry major who hopes to attend medical school, has been analyzing candidate genes for a phenotype of interest in apple trees, using a bioinformatics software called Geneious. “By working with the Cornell group,” she says, “I hope to put into practice what I have learned through my major and gain a deeper understanding of how my major can be applied to the real world. Additionally, I hope to gain an understanding of the work done by the Cornell group and their connection to farmers as well as other industries.” Her research is being funded by the Drs. Cary and Cohen Fund.
Hurysz, who intends to major in biochemistry, is interested in a career in orthopedic surgery. She is studying the transmission of a bacterial disease called fire blight that is devastating to the apple industry. “Farmers are using a new mechanical technique to thin their trees as opposed to a dangerous chemical called carbaryl,” she says. “We are examining whether or not the mechanical techniques spread the fire blight disease as they wound the tree.” Hurysz’s work is being funded by the Brenda and David Rickey Foundation.
Jonathan Thrall, a chemistry major, is working on a project of particular interest to vintners: exploring ways of controlling the grape berry moth, whose larvae feed on grapes. His research is focused on understanding how the moths find their way to grape plants in a “noisy chemical environment.”
“A noisy chemical environment refers to a natural habitat that contains many different odor sources,” he says. “We want to know how the grape berry moth distinguishes grape plants from other plants.” This research, hopefully, will one day lead to an efficient trap for the moth. Thrall’s research is funded through the Thomas J. Glover Scholarship.
The chance to spend eight weeks conducting summer research at NYSAES has developed through a long-standing relationship between HWS and Cornell University. “This opportunity is invaluable for students as they have a chance to work with internationally recognized researchers and with graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and research scientists,” says Associate Professor of Biology Patricia Mowery, who is the Colleges’ liaison with NYSAES. “Over the summer some students realize their passion for research and change their career goals. Other students, for instance those with an interest in health care, gain invaluable insight into what real research entails, which is incredibly important for health care workers to appreciate.”