(May 29, 2015)

Rising junior selected as one of 15 national recipients for competitive fellowship

SHREVEPORT, LA — Centenary student Melissa Traver '17 has been selected as one of 15 students in the nation to receive a highly competitive Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) awarded by the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB).

Melissa Traver
Melissa Traver '17

"I am blessed and beyond excited to have the opportunity to spend my summer conducting research," said Traver. "I hope that the lab experience and skills I gain this summer will propel me toward my goals of attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in the biological sciences."

ASPB is the primary professional society devoted to the advancement of the plant sciences worldwide. The fellowship funds promising undergraduate students from all over the world so they can conduct research in plant biology during the early part of their college careers.

"To receive this award is essentially one of the highest honors an undergraduate can achieve from ASPB, and the opportunity to begin this level of research so early in Melissa's scientific development can open so many doors for her in the future," said Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Rebecca Murphy. "I am immensely proud of her accomplishment, though not surprised, as I feel that our science curriculum prepares our students well for such opportunities. I am very excited to work with both Melissa and Manon Doucet (who received support from Centenary's student-faculty summer research program) this summer and can't wait to see what we can get done!"

Traver's SURF research proposal, "Making the switch: The role of protein interactions in CONSTANS-mediated floral initiation in sorghum," was inspired by increasing food and energy demands worldwide. The focus of the research, performed under mentor Murphy, is to utilize the available information on the model plant, Arabidopsis, and apply it to flowering time in Sorghum bicolor, a crop plant for both grain production and bioenergy uses. Following her fellowship, Traver will attend the 2016 ASPB meeting in Austin, Texas, where she will present the results of her research.

"By conducting research this summer at Texas A&M and traveling to the ASPB conference in summer 2016, I will have the opportunity not only to work in facilities with equipment I would otherwise not have access but also to meet and network with professionals in the field I hope to enter," said Traver.

Traver is an active member of Centenary's Zeta Tau Alpha chapter and serves as a Centenary Ambassador.