Intern Spotlight: Abbey Neat
A recent graduate of the environmental science program at UC Davis, Abbey Neat was an REU intern at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) during the summer of 2015. During her internship, Abbey conducted research on mycorrhizal colonization of tropical trees. Abbey’s internship intensified her interest in the role that microbes play in shaping Earth’s ecosystems, especially in tropical forests. Abbey is currently back at STRI working on a new project to characterize the endophytic communities across a genus of plant, Psychotria.
Under the mentorship of STRI Research Associate, Luis Mejia, Postdoctoral Fellow, Brian Sedio, and staff scientist Owen McMillan, Abbey is working to isolate and identify endophytic communities found in the leaves of Psychotria plants. She also cultures the different pathogens found on unhealthy leaves. This research will allow for a better understanding of how plant fungal communities are related to their host plants, and will more broadly address questions regarding how plant pathogens shape tropical forest communities.
As one of the highlights of her internship Abbey spent a month working and living on BCI to collect the leaf samples. She says she feels very lucky to have gotten the experience to hike daily in a tropical rain forest where she witnessed and learned about so many interesting organisms (animals, plants, and especially fungi!) — in short, her experience was Seriously Amazing!