Graduate student Marianne Slaten celebrated for research

Melody Kroll
News Source
Mizzou Biology

The Division of Biological Sciences congratulates Marianne Slaten on being selected for the J. Perry Gustafson Award for Outstanding Research in the Life Sciences.

The award, which comes with a $2000 prize, is given to a Ph.D. candidate conducting life sciences research as a member of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group, the College of Veterinary Medicine, Comparative Medicine Program, Division of Biological Sciences, or the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources.

“It is an honor to be recognized for research and hard work,” Slaten said. “I know a lot of individuals that are well-deserving of this award, so it is humbling to be recognized amongst my peers. As a graduate student, it can be difficult to know if you’re doing well or on the right track, so validation of that feels really good.”

Slaten is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Ruthie Angelovici’s lab. Her dissertation research centers on the amino acid content of Arabidopsis seeds. Seed crops, like rice and corn, are essential to human and animal diets but are poor sources of protein, making them ideal targets for biofortification efforts. Unfortunately, efforts to boost a seed’s nutritional value by altering its amino acid content (hence, protein composition) have been generally unsuccessful or result in yield or growth penalties. Slaten is using a combination of advanced quantitative genetic and systems biology approaches and bioinformatic techniques to pinpoint the genes involved in this complex metabolic trait. She has 7 publications in peer-reviewed journals, including four first author papers, and has presented her graduate research at several international and national meetings.

The award honors the career of J. Perry Gustafson, an adjunct professor emeritus in the Division of Plant Sciences. While at Mizzou, Gustafson built an internationally recognized research program focused on wheat cytogenetics and mentored more than 25 students and more than 50 international scientists. His research focused on understanding genetic mechanisms that control the introduction and expression of genes in wheat, using genetic, cytogenetic, and molecular approaches.

Slaten is the third graduate student in a row from the Division of Biological Sciences to receive this competitive award. Previous recipients include Daniel Kick with the Schulz lab and Jon Cody, Ph.D. ’19, with the Birchler lab.