April 20, 2021
Doctoral student Gann named American Society of Plant Biologists Ambassador
By Robby Edwards, Director of Communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences
- Gann conducts Agricultural Experiment Station research for his Ph.D. thesis
- He is in third year of doctoral cell and molecular biology program
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Peter James Icalia Gann, a University of Arkansas doctoral student, has been selected to serve as an ambassador for the American Society of Plant Biologists.
The organization typically selects around 15 undergraduates, graduate students and early-career professionals from around the world who exhibit potential as future young leaders through their current work in the field of plant biology to serve as ambassadors.
Gann is in his third year in the doctoral cell and molecular biology program in the U of A’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Vibha Srivastava, professor of plant biology in the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station’s department of crop, soil and environmental sciences, is his adviser.
The experiment station is the research arm of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Like most of the experiment station’s Fayetteville-based researchers, Srivastava also has a teaching appointment in Bumpers College. Many of the college’s graduate students, like Gann, conduct their thesis research as part of experiment station research programs.
As an ambassador, Gann has the registration fee to the 2021 Plant Biology Conference waived, will write an article reviewing the conference, has the opportunity to serve on committees, will represent the society in various activities and propose funded activities for the ambassadors.
Gann's research includes experimenting on the starch biosynthetic process in rice. He's in the process of analyzing gene functions and controlling them through gene editing such as CRISPR/Cas9 to improve rice grain quality.
He presented a portion of his work during the U of A's Three-Minute Thesis competition in January 2021 and finished first in the interdisciplinary category.
Gann works with Srivastava and Paul Allen Counce, also an experiment station researcher who is stationed at the Division of Agriculture’s Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart.
Srivastava teaches and conducts research on plant biotechnology, molecular genetics and plant molecular biology areas, and Counce conducts agronomic research to increase understanding of physiological yield-limiting factors of the rice plant and crops, and processes to increase rice yields. Gann also works with Betty Martin, who recently retired from the U of A's Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering in the College of Engineering.
The ASPB was founded in 1924 to promote the growth and development of plant biology, encourage and publish research, and promote the interests, growth and education of plant scientists. The society provides a forum for molecular and cellular biology and serves the basic interests of plant science.
The ambassadors program was established to enlist early career and industry scientists to contribute to the overarching missions of the society, including serving as a liaison between ASPB and local communities at outreach events, conferences, training sessions or on social media.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.