CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – This summer, Matthew Martin’s budding interest in plants will send him to the Ivy League campus of Cornell University where he’ll conduct advanced research in the field of plant pathology. The Austin Peay State University student is getting this rare opportunity thanks to Cornell’s competitive Microbial Friends and Foes Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program.
“You’re studying basically diseases in plants,” Martin said. “The lab I’m going to be working with deals a lot with plant viruses.”
Martin will spend about two months at the Ithaca, N.Y., campus, working closely with professional researchers in the plant pathology field.
“I found it really interesting, and I don’t think anyone does that type of research here,” he said. “That’s why I applied for that specific one (REU). It uses a lot of techniques I’ve been working on with Dr. (Chad) Brooks (APSU professor of biology), but it’s still a different field, so I’m going to be able to leverage what I’ve already been working on for the last few years and apply that to new research.”
For the last several years, APSU professors have encouraged students to spend their summers participating in REUs to gain research experience in fields not offered at the University. APSU students have scattered across the globe each year, from France to the Czech Republic, in search of these opportunities.
“If the students don’t want to do one of those things (offered at APSU), the idea is they should find what they might be interested in doing for graduate school or for a career, find a school that does exactly that thing and go try it for the summer,” Dr. Alex King, interim dean of the APSU College of Science and Mathematics, said a few years ago.
Martin, a double major in German and biology, plans to attend graduate school when he graduates from APSU, and this REU might guide him in a new direction.
“It will help me decide what field I want to go into when I go to graduate school,” he said. “If there’s something I can experience first hand here, that I’m kind of interested in, then this is a great opportunity for me to decide what I would like to pursue later.”