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Student work honored at space biology meeting

11/04/2000

Two Miami University botany students received awards at the recent meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology, held in Montreal, Canada.

In an undergraduate competition, Nicholas Ruppel was awarded honorable mention and received a trophy and cash prize for his presentation "A novel red-light-based photosensory system that mediates positive phototropism in Arabidopsis roots." Ruppel, a senior, works with John Kiss, professor of botany, and has participated in both the Hughes Internship Program and the Summer Scholar Program at Miami.

Kazuyoshi Yamamoto received a certificate and cash prize for second place in the graduate competition for his presentation "The effect of plastid mutations on gravitational tropism of roots, hypocotyls and inflorescence stems of Arabidopsis." Yamamoto is a second-year graduate student working in Kiss’ laboratory.

Kiss has recently received a three-year grant for $460,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to study gravity perception mechanisms in plants on the International Space Station. Mission specialists ran his seed growth experiments on the Atlantis shuttle in 1997.

The research is intended to help determine how plants respond to microgravity regarding their use as a food source, their ability to produce oxygen and their aesthetics regarding potential prolonged human time in space.

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