A question & answer session to get to know the 2023 GG ScholarĀ  Erica Jones, 1st year graduate student in the Crop Sciences Department.

What aspect of genetics and/or genomics most interests you?

I like breeding and genetic modification techniques.

What (or Who) influenced you to go into your field of study?

I was influenced by my 7th grade science teacher. We learned about genetics through Punnett squares, and I found it super satisfying!

Who or what do you hope benefits from your research?

I want to use my research to help decrease food insecurity.

How can your research be used to inform decision makers (e.g. policy makers, resource managers, health practitioners, K12 educators, etc etc)?

I think learning the fundamentals of genetics can benefit everyone. Knowing the mechanisms beneath both plants and animals can strength our understanding of the world around us.

What do you think is the most pressing issue or problem in your field of study?

Misunderstanding of “GMO”s and genetic breeding.

How do you expect the GG Scholars program to impact your work?

I’m super excited to get a multidisciplinary education, along with a community to interact with when I have research roadblocks.

How would you describe your research interests to a 3rd grader?

Genes control a lot of what we look like and how our bodies work. The combination of our genes comes from our parents, it’s called inheritance. You might have your moms eyes and your dads hair, but you can also develop things over time, like an allergy to cats. The goal of genetics is to understand inheritance and in my case, apply it to plants. We want the sturdiest, most robust plants to be more adaptable to climate change and diseases, which we can do through genetics. Slowly but surely, you can breed generations of plants that have all the good qualities, while also removing the bad qualities, like having low disease resistance.

What’s your dream job?

Growing plants on Mars!!!