Conference Grant Awardee Maria Hindt

On December 14, 2012 by Grad Forum


The Graduate Forum is delighted to announce that Maria Hindt, a fourth year Molecular & Cellular Biology PhD candidate, has been awarded a travel grant from the Genetics Society of America to attend the International Conference on Arabidopsis Research in Sydney, Australia.

Hindt works in Professor Mary Lou Guerinot’s lab, where she studies iron homeostasis in the model plant organism, Arabidopsis thaliana. Her expertise in this area is clear—a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation supports her research.

Arabidopsis is a small flowering plant related to mustard. It is a commonly studied plant. Arabidopsis was the first to have its entire genome sequenced. Hindt’s work is crucial because of the importance of iron as a requirement for humans and plants.  Iron deficiency is a huge problem worldwide. A staggering two billion people (over 30% of the world’s population) are anemic—a condition caused by iron deficiency. The World Health Organization therefore places a strong emphasis on increasing the amount of iron consumed around the world.

Further understanding how plants acquire and store iron is a crucial step in understanding how to better facilitate providing nutrition to some of the poorest people in the world who rely on plants for their dietary iron. Hindt’s research has the potential to make a huge different in the day-to-day lives of two billion people in the world. Therefore the opportunity to spend time with some of the world’s experts in Arabidopsis is an exciting opportunity, not only for Hindt, but also Dartmouth as an institution. At the conference, Hindt will present a poster, however she is also hoping to give a talk. Aside from these exciting tasks, she will also be able to meet and discuss ideas with some of the experts in her field.

She hopes to make the most of the experience, and has applied to use the Australian Synchrotron. Here, she can use a technique called Synchrotron X-Ray Fluorescence (SXRF) to visualize metal localization in living plant tissues. The Synchrotron in Australia is one of the best in the world and the opportunity to use it is unparalleled in terms of meeting her research ambitions. The Guerinot lab has been able to send samples there, but this will be the first opportunity for someone to physically be at the site. There are few people in the world who have experience with this machinery. Hindt will hopefully become one of them.

Hindt’s story here parallels the experience of many graduate students at Dartmouth. Through hard work and faculty support, Hindt will be able to have an experience that will enhance her research and her professional life.

Article by Dan Durcan

Picture courtesy of Maria Hindt

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