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White Mold Research: Graduate Student Scientist Profile

October 3, 2019

My name is Nikita Gambhir and I am doing a Ph.D in plant pathology as an under grad I had my Bachelors in Bio Technology and we had a four month training project so I did some work in breeding lines. so my advisor had this project in which I was interested I did not specifically choose Nebraska but it happened to be but since I am here, it is a really good place to be in. I’m researching on Sclerontinia Sclerotiorum it is commonly known as white mold and it causes disease in more than 450 plant species. Imagine an agricultural scenario we have different crops, farmers grow different types of crops and different types of pathogens attack these crops. So the problem is that these pathogens when we spray some chemicals to control them, like when we spray fungicides to control these fungi, they can become resistant which means they can have some changes in their DNA so that even when we spray the fungicide to kill it, it won’t get killed. So I’m here to see why does it happen, what kind of changes occur in the DNA, and is it the same for the different chemicals. I hope that it will have some practical implications, it is very important to see why does this happen, so that we can circumvent this, we want to prevent this from happening. I am not sure about returning to India after my Ph.D or after my post doc but I will definitely return and I am doing some genome analysis things and I know such kinds of analysis are already occurring there, but then I can take some type of expertise from here to there to my university that I had my undergrad from and I will hopefully be able to use it. I work in 435 Plant Science Hall and it’s a good lab to be in. We have two different microscopes, a big laminate floor, and then PCRs. So the two objectives of my Ph.D are I have a collaboration with people and scientists in North Platte. Science is all about collaborations. You know you can have collaborations like in your own lab. So some people will be like doing some part of the project, and you are doing the other part of the project. Or you can find other people with different expertise and different labs and have collaborations. I have not participated much in SCImPLE but I think that it is a very good idea, because we want our research to be disseminated to high school students, to other public in general and we want that so that they know why the research that we are doing is important, why do we need funds, and because they are taxpaying, so where their money is being used. I would like to give them some advices. First of all I would like to say that they should take more and more math and science classes becuase it will have them form a really good foundation when they do their undergrad and if they want they can get their Ph.D. A good foundation is really important. In everyday life, I think that they should start thinking like more critically about things. It’s not only for people who plan to have science in their future but even for everybody to make objective decisions. I think the world needs more scientists because we have so many different questions that can be answered if we have more scientists, and I think that we will advance faster if we have more scientists.

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