Summer research helps Taryn Bosquez ’19 gain valuable research skills

Taryn Bosquez doing research in biology lab in Farr Hall, July 2017

While she was taking the genetics course of Professor of Biology Mark Kainz, Taryn Bosquez ’19 stood out. “I chose her because she was a very engaged and a successful student in my genetics class, and she seemed to be very interested in molecular genetics,” Kainz says.

This summer, Kainz selected Bosquez to assist him in his research on a particular virus that infects plants. Bosquez has been examining RNAi pathways in tobacco plants which allow plants to fight off disease. “Most plants have defense a mechanism that protects them against infection by viruses,” Kainz says. “What this defense mechanism does is it degrades the virus genome. Viruses have a gene that blocks that. It’s kind of an arms race between two. What we don’t know is which step in the defense process the virus blocks.”

Bosquez says she enjoys working for Kainz. “I wanted to do research with him because I knew that I could easily learn from him and absorb all that he would teach me,” she says. “He also has a good sense of humor, so that makes him very easy to work with.”

For her plans after graduation, Bosquez is contemplating graduate school and medical school. “I do know for sure that I want to help people and have a positive impact on their life in some way, but it is the way I would do it that is hard for me to decide,” she says.

Kainz adds that he has enjoyed working with Bosquez. “One of the things that has been striking about Taryn is (that) she has been able to take what she learned in genetics and without a lot of support from me has been able to apply it to the problem,” he says. “She is able to transfer the knowledge she gained from genetics and apply it to her research.”

The research that Bosquez and Kainz are working on could have positive effects on agriculture, and Kainz hopes it will help the scientific community better understand how these types of viruses work. Currently, the virus is one of the top 10 plant diseases in the world, and it is responsible for $2 to $3 billion worth of plant damage a year.

Lauren Hince ’18
Blaine, Minnesota