Chuck Woods (352) 392-1773 x 281
Maria Gallo-Meagher email@example.com, 352-392-1823 ext. 200
GAINESVILLE, Fla.—Maria Gallo-Meagher, an associate professor with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award for Teaching and Research at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands.
Beginning May 15, Gallo-Meagher will spend seven months at the Dutch university conducting research on molecular plant physiology and biotechnology, and lecturing on critical thinking in the sciences.
She was selected for the Fulbright award through a national competitive process and is one of three Fulbright awardees in The Netherlands for this year. Her work at Utrecht will be part of a planned sabbatical leave program through the end of the year.
The Utrecht university, which will soon celebrate its 370th anniversary, is one of Europe’s largest and most prominent institutes of research and education. The university has research alliances with other institutions and organizations worldwide.
Gallo-Meagher’s Fulbright award will support her work with Professor Sjef Smeekens’ research group to learn how plants grow, develop and respond to their environment.
She said the Arabidopsis thaliana plant will be the research model. A member of the mustard family, Arabidopsis is not a commercial crop, but is the plant of choice for basic research because it develops, reproduces and responds to stress and disease similarly to crop plants.
Easy to grow and handle, Arabidopsis is a small plant with a short lifespan, producing many seeds needed for genetic experiments, Gallo-Meagher said. A multinational consortium has been developed to study the Arabidopsis genome with the goal of improving crop plants, and Smeekens’ research program is a key part of the research effort.
“My expertise as a crop molecular biologist and biotechnologist – which includes research on maize, soybeans, peanuts and sugarcane – will be useful in creating better crop plants,” she said. “This Fulbright award will enhance future collaborations between UF and the University of Utrecht, and facilitate the improvement of crops that have a global impact.”
Gallo-Meagher said the lecture portion of the Fulbright award will focus on restructuring and teaching a course on molecular plant physiology and biotechnology at Utrecht. She will emphasize the six elements of critical thinking: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, explanation and self-regulation.
“We recognize the importance of teaching critical thinking skills in plant biotechnology, which is a controversial and rapidly evolving area, particularly between the United States and Europe,” she said. “The work will also enhance the presentation of my ‘Seeds of Change’ course in plant biotechnology at UF.”
Gallo-Meagher, who has worked with many international scientists and supervised international students throughout her career, joined the faculty in the UF/IFAS agronomy department in 1996. Prior to that, she was an assistant professor in the agronomy and plant genetics department at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul.
Widely published and recipient of numerous professional awards, Gallo-Meagher has obtained more than $2 million in grants for research and teaching at UF. She is an invited speaker at national and international scientific conferences.
Gallo-Meagher was born and raised in Port Chester, N.Y., and received her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Cornell University. She earned her master’s degree in crop science and her doctoral degree in genetics from North Carolina State University.