Tina presenting at the Evolution Conference 2013.

Tina presenting at the Evolution Conference 2013.

Name: Tina Johnson

Major: Biology

Classification: Sophomore

Hometown: Colorado Springs

Mentor: Dr. Joshua Brokaw, Biology

What I Study: Currently, I am researching a new species of plant known as Mentzelia monoensis, a plant native to Mono County, California. Though evolutionary distinct, the species shares many physical attributes with other closely related species–such as Mentzelia albicaulis and Mentzelia montana–which leads to misidentification of the species, especially among those unfamiliar with Mentzelia. Thus, our research focuses on pinpointing methods of differentiating the species. This summer we are experimenting with a new method of differentiation known as SNP Haplotyping, which (if successful) will be a much more cost effective option.

Why I do research:  I research because I enjoy the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Often in the classroom setting, it feels as though we’re only regurgitating information–which is fine on some level. But it’s an incredible feeling to realize that the same information we commit to memory was once a novel scientific enquiry. I am continually excited at the prospect of contributing to the basis of our scientific understanding. Furthermore, researching has provided me with a supportive community and an outlet for self-expression. I am so grateful for the opportunities undergraduate research has provided me.

Conferences: Evolution Conference 2013, ACU Undergraduate Research Festival 2013