Every semester, MREC offers internship opportunities to students interested in different horticultural aspects. Finishing up her summer internship is Nereida Gabriel, a current biomedical student at UCF.
Since middle school, Nereida has wanted to become a doctor. Her interest in the medical field has continued to grow, and becoming involved with research is an important part of her education. She reached out to the center hoping to become involved in a relevant area to medicine and plants- microbiology.
“What drew me to this internship was the chance to work in microbiology. While I am a plant-focused major, it helped broaden my perspective, especially in research,” Nereida explained.
Nereida has plans of becoming a doctor in either pediatrics or obstetrics. Although her career path primarily focuses on people, she has enjoyed the environment of working in a research lab. So much so that she is now considering a new path along the lines of research.
“I wasn’t really expecting to like research as much as I do. I don’t mind the work, or even writing up a report if I like the subject. It’s actually really fun and I enjoy it a lot,” Nereida says.
Nereida worked with Dr. Ali on his work in plant pathology. His work focuses on bacteria plants naturally have, called microbiomes, much like in our own bodies. These microbiomes aid in plant growth and overall health.
There are hundreds of bacteria on a plant; some are able to fight plant pathogens. Nereida looked at the native Lantana plant to look at which bacteria control the growth of common pathogens.
She presented her findings to an undergraduate summer research symposium. Here, she was able to showcase the knowledge she gained along with other interns. Usually, once the research presentation is finished, interns are also finished for the summer. However, she has stayed here to finish up on this research.
Nereida concluded by saying, “I am still planning on going into medicine, however, this internship has created a possible new path for me. Combining the medical field with plant-based solutions is a way I can use both of my experiences in the future.”