Unrooting the Wonders of the Arabidopsis

Prabh Kaur, COL ’26, Seaford, DE

“Do you know what a PCR is?” I was met with this question the first day I came to the lab. Stepping into the Wagner lab in September 2022 under the expert guidance of Dr. Sandhan Parkash, I found myself new not only to Penn, but also to the intricate worlds of biology and research. Scientific techniques were a foreign language to me, yet my enthusiasm to learn was unwavering.

Progressing into the school year, I carefully allotted time each week from my schedule to dedicate to the lab, squeezing in moments between classes, Friday evenings, and even occasional weekends. However, creating a balance between my classes and the lab was immensely challenging.

It was when I received summer research funding through Career Services that I finally had a chance to devote every ounce of my time to pursuing research. As the summer unfolded, I was able to bridge gaps in my knowledge that had been created due to limited time during the semester. As I built upon techniques learned throughout my first year, I acquired many more, including cloning, primer design, and plant dipping, embarking on my own project – unrooting the wonders of the functionality of LEAFY in Arabidopsis. The journey of crafting my project was full of rewards, and challenges, but exhilarating fun. As I continue my research, exploring the wonders of LFY K80 and its mutant, I am deepening my appreciation for genetics, plants, and science.

Now, if a new undergrad were to walk in with experience similar to what I had and asked me what a PCR is, I could explain what it is, what it’s used for, how I’ve integrated the technique into my research, and much more! It’s incredible seeing how much growth I have made at Penn since a year ago, and this would not have been possible without the time I spent during the summer. If someone had come to me before I entered the Wagner Lab, I would’ve never imagined that I would go into plant research and enjoy being in the lab and learning about Arabidopsis so much. I eagerly look forward to the results of my research in the near future, and thank Career Services for providing me the funding to pursue this new avenue in my life where I can push myself outside my comfort zone and nurture my curiosity.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services