Alex Humberto Valenzuela
Atkinson lab: Plants are under constant pressure from pests through herbivory and the spread of disease. Insects can severely limit food production and have significant economic consequences. By knowing what makes plants vulnerable to insects, we can work towards improving insect resistance in crops. As a scientist, I am interested in translational research and want to be able to work toward solutions for issues such as food insecurity. Being in a cohort of innovative students from unique backgrounds will expose me to new perspectives and enable my growth as a scientist in ways my Ph.D. program alone could not. Plants 3D will provide the training from both fields to succeed as a synthetic biologist. In addition to cross-training in science and engineering, Plants 3D will help me build important skills needed in today’s workplace. This includes lessons in entrepreneurship, which is not typically part of a biologist’s curriculum. As a Latino and a first-generation college student, I am drawn by this program’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusiveness in science.