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.
As I consider the future of plant production, I look forward to new adventures within academia and industry. During my graduate program, I intend to develop and improve my scholarship as a student representing the University of Florida. By watching others, I will develop and refine my own professional and personable style of communication to increase clarity, efficacy, and my ability to lead people of all educational backgrounds. My doctoral research involves the optimization of tissue culture acclimation using environmentally controlled vertical farming methods. At the same time, my goal is to help horticulture make important strides in addressing the concerns of our ever-growing global population of consumers by implementing automation into the green industry. This includes providing valuable training to undergraduate students wanting to develop a career in plant science. As a graduate student, I am seeking experiences and responsibilities, which will enable me to contribute to the community of global scholars and plant producers. By concentrating my studies on the optimization of young plant production, I hope to make a significant contribution for generations to come.
Carlee graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in December of 2016. As a bachelor’s student her research focused on invasive removal and endangered plant propagation. She also worked for two years at the SC Botanic Garden on the Natural Heritage trail which focused on showcasing the beauty of SC native ecosystems. Upon graduation, Carlee accepted a position with the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Bureau of Land Management working with native seed collection in the Mojave Desert. Carlee started her Master’s degree at the University of Florida in August of 2017. Her research focuses on native plant propagation with emphasis on establishment in home landscapes. Her career goals include continuing to research native plant conservation and propagation.
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.
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.