Henderson State University biology alumna (2014) Cynthia Holland recently defended her Ph.D. dissertation entitled “Plant Metabolic Pathways and Regulatory Networks for Aromatic Amino Acids and Hormones” at Washington University in St. Louis.
Holland, who joined the lab of Dr. Joe Jez in the Plant and Microbial Biosciences program in 2014, has enjoyed a successful graduate career, completing her doctoral work in just 4 years.
Along the way, she coauthored at least nine research papers, including an article in the top tier journal Nature Chemical Biology. Most of her work focused on various aspects of amino acid synthesis pathways in plants.
While a senior at Henderson, Holland spent a summer at Washington University participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. This experience was significant in her acceptance into the prestigious Washington University graduate school program.
Holland did undergraduate research at Henderson for two years with Dr. Marty Campbell, helping start a natural product discovery from native Arkansas plants program. Her extensive research experience, along with participation in two separate REU programs, paid off.
In 2014, she became the first ever Henderson student to be awarded (as an undergraduate) the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship, which provided stipend support for three years at a graduate institute of her choice.
This spring, Holland became a recipient of a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. This program will provide funding in excess of $200,000 for up to three years of postdoctoral work. In August, she will join the Georg Jander lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She hopes to use her knowledge of plant biochemistry to begin engineering plants to produce medically useful compounds.