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Career Readiness Through a Plant Virus and Fungal Pathogen

Lebanon Valley College science students complete Summer Scholars program.

As a Summer Research Scholar at Cornell AgriTech, Brandon Roy ’20, biochemistry & molecular biology major, investigated the infectious Grapevine red blotch virus and biology major Patrick McMullen ’20 studied the morphological traits and population genetics of a fungal pathogen of shrub willow. Both LVC students say they gained valuable lab and field experience through the nine-week, full-time, paid internship.

McMullen had returned to the program for his second summer conducting fieldwork and research. He also introduced third graders to plant diseases and basic microbiology. Roy, who was named a Goldwater Scholar last spring in recognition of his career path in the sciences, was inspired to apply to the program after he saw how much McMullen had enjoyed his first internship there. 

“Dr. Rebecca Urban [associate professor of biology, director of environmental science] recommended the program,” said McMullen. “One of her former students, Libby Cieniewicz ’14, completed it while an LVC undergrad and went onto graduate school at Cornell University. She just finished her Ph.D. in plant pathology this past spring.” 

Roy was responsible for his own lab work, collecting data and bringing conclusions to lab meetings each week. He said some of his research was difficult, but he thanks LVC’s science faculty for his preparedness. 

“At LVC, I received a background of research in the Chemistry and Biology departments,” said Roy. “Getting this type of training—one-on-one with professors—was invaluable in preparation for Cornell,” Roy said.

McMullen agrees that the continuous research opportunities LVC provides benefitted him during the two summers. 

“Research experience, working with Dr. Urban, and my coursework in biology at LVC helped prepare me for this internship. Dr. Urban’s mentorship and encouragement to apply to external internships greatly helped prepare me for future studies in graduate school,” McMullen said. 


- Huntre Keip, Marketing & Communications Intern