Nicholas obtained a B.S. in Biology and an M.S. in Horticultural Sciences from the University of Florida. Nicholas’ background in biology is a driving force behind his motivation to ask basic scientific questions that address current research gaps in seed biology. One such gap is the potential for a within-species mass-based aging response in seeds. Nicholas’ Ph.D. research focuses on how intraspecific seed mass variation modulates in situ and ex situ seed deterioration. Nicholas’ work has implications for understanding how seed mass contributes to microevolution in plants and viability loss in long-term storage. Nicholas hopes to work in some capacity to conserve resources and biodiversity by advancing mankind’s scientific understanding of the natural world.
Krishna Bhattarai was born in Nepalgunj, Banke, Nepal. He grew up with a younger brother, in Rajapur, Bardia. After completion of School Leaving Certificate (SLC) from Gulariya, Bardia he completed high school in Kathmandu. He joined the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Tribhuvan University (TU), for a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree in 2006. He studied at IAAS in Paklihawa, Rupendehi for the first two years and the last two years at IAAS in Rampur, Chitwan thereby completing his undergraduate degree, with Plant Breeding as an elective, in 2010. After graduation, he started working as a Project Officer for the Association for Social Transformation and Humanitarian Assistance (ASTHA) – Nepal, a non-government organization in 2011. He completed his Master of Science degree with the Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, North Carolina, US in 2014. He joined Ornamental Plant Breeding and Genetics Program, University of Florida, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Wimauma, FL 33598 in 2015 as an intern and currently he is a Ph.D. student working on gerbera daisy breeding in the program.
Cindy Sigler is a doctoral student in the Environmental Horticulture Department majoring in Plant Breeding and Genetics. Cindy began working at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Florida at the age of 16 where she learned basic tissue culture and transformation techniques of pathogen resistant citrus cultivars. After transferring to the University of Florida, Cindy began working in Dr. Thomas Colquhoun’s plant biotechnology laboratory with an undergraduate research focus on characterizing two protein families required for phenylpropanoid production in plants. Her current research involves investigating floral fragrance metabolism and its role in pollinator ecology. After completing her graduate studies, Cindy intends on improving flavor and aroma of fruits and flowers through volatile manipulation. When she’s not in a laboratory, Cindy can be found outside biking, kayaking or collecting specimens for her curated insect collection.
Shea Keene is a master’s student in the Environmental Horticulture department. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida. Originally planning on entering medical school, Shea followed a pre-medical track throughout her undergraduate career. During her final semester, however, she realized she was not happy in the medical field. She decided to scrap her medical school applications and instead applied for several horticultural internships, as she had found a love for plants and gardening in the preceding years. During the fall of 2014, Shea lived on the island of Kaua’i and completed an internship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Upon her return to Florida, she gained employment at Bok Tower Gardens and worked full-time as a gardener for all of 2015. While there, the Director of Horticulture introduced her to UF professor Dr. Kimberly Moore, who recommended graduate school and the Environmental Horticulture department. Shea applied and was accepted as a graduate student by Dr. Thomas Colquhoun. Shea’s research interests include floral volatile analysis and consumer preference studies.
Graduate Student Council Representative
Andres earned an Agricultural Sciences bachelor’s degree from Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL, Guayaquil, Ecuador) in 2012. Andres then worked as a researcher at Centro de Investigaciones del Biotecnológicas del Ecuador (CIBE). At CIBE Andres worked on projects related to cocoa, coffee, and rice. He also collaborated on projects investigating the influence of organic fertilizers on crop production and entomology. Andres worked as a visiting scientist in the Seed Lab during the fall of 2015 and began as a Master’s student in the fall of 2016. Ecuador is a biodiverse country but also faces challenges related to conservation of native flora. Andres is interested in learning more about the intersection of seed biology and endangered plant conservation so that he can become a leader in this field in Ecuador.