This summer I traveled to Oxford for two months. There, I worked in Dr. Gail Preston’s lab in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford. Not only did I get to partake in British culture (including drinking afternoon tea and complaining about the weather), but I also got a feel for the lab/Uni culture in Oxford. As Oxford is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the world, I ran into some unique challenges including:
- Having to wrestle through crowds of tourists on my way to and from work
- Old building quirks like lack of air conditioning or female bathrooms
- Having to travel by foot as the campus is not vehicle friendly
Dr. Preston is world renown researcher on bacterial-plant interactions. My projects in her lab focused on dissecting the immune response of a metal hyperaccumulating plant, Thlaspi caerulescens, to pathogen infection. I helped train her new graduate student, Rose Bourdon, on bacterial infection assays and in turn she helped me conduct GC-MS on apoplast extractions. As I was working in a fairly large and well established lab, I had to adjust to a new lab culture. I found this experience very rewarding since one can learn a lot from working in different lab environments.
I was able to participate in some unique experiences while working in the Preston lab including touring the UK national synchrotron science facility, Diamond. It was incredible hearing about the variety of projects that are being conducted by scientists across the UK. The facility was very impressive with state of the art equipment and technologies. I was also able to travel to a quinoa farm in Shropshire, where we collected samples from a local farmer and learned about quinoa production and weed management in the UK.
While in the UK, I was able to attend the IS-MPMI XVIII Congress in Glasgow, Scotland. I presented a poster of my sulfur research and participated in the flash talk session. I attended the first Diversity Social/Workshop as well as many speaker sessions. I was able to reconnect with old colleagues and make new ones. One our half day off, I went to the Glasgow Botanical Garden and had high tea with some friends from Cornell. I am grateful for my funding sources including Brian’s NSF grant and the UGA Global Programs for awarding me an international travel award.