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MSU Graduate Students Receive New Travel Award

Inaugural Winners

Pengfei Cao and Alyssa Preiser have been awarded the inaugural Keegstra and Thomashow Travel Award. Both graduate students were each awarded $1200 to present their research at upcoming science conferences.

The award was established to enrich the education and future careers of promising PRL students. It helps them attend high quality science conferences, where they get to network, learn about new discoveries, and pursue new lines of collaboration and research.

Alyssa is a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the lab of Thomas Sharkey. Her research focuses on the Calvin cycle, the photosynthetic mechanism that provides carbon for plant development and defense.

She says, “I was happy to hear that I received the travel award. I will attend two conferences over the summer, and I’m really excited to share the work that I’ve been doing. I have benefitted from a lab environment and Dr. Sharkey’s direction that encourages us to tell the stories of our research, and it’s an honor to be recognized as having a story worth telling.”

Pengfei is a student in the Department of Plant Biology and the lab of Federica Brandizzi. He focuses on mechanisms that regulate the morphology of the endoplasmic reticulum, the plant cell’s main protein manufacturer.

He says, “I feel excited and honored to be a recipient of the travel award. I cherish this award as a recognition of research that I could only accomplish under Dr. Brandizzi’s supervision and as a member of the PRL family. With the provided opportunity, I will spare no effort to enrich my education and broaden the research impact of the PRL.”

The award was established by two former PRL directors, Ken Keegstra (1993 – 2006), and Michael Thomashow (2006 – 2015) and their spouses, Sue Keegstra and Suzanne Thomashow.

The former directors and their spouses believe that graduate students need to learn how to effectively communicate their research at high quality scientific conferences. However, financial support for such activities is becoming ever more limited, which is why they created this award.

  • Igor Houwat via MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory News 

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