Mehak Bhardwaj ’21

Analysis of Hydrenchyma to Determine How C3 and C4 Plants Adapt in Drought Environments

I virtually worked at an Environmental Science Lab with Dr. Brent Helliker at The University of Pennsylvania, and studied how the physiology of C3 and C4 plants are affected by environmental conditions. I used the ImageJ software and computed and analyzed the anatomy - bulliform, bundle sheath, and stomata - of grasses to determine how water storage can be optimized. A primary focus of my research was to understand the spatial distribution of stomata in the grasses - were they even, random, or aggregated in their distribution? Results obtained showed that the majority of species have even distributions, allowing for more water storage, helping them to survive in harsh climates. This knowledge can be applied to numerous species of plants, potentially allowing them to be genetically modified as to improve their efficiency.

By effectively communicating and quickly learning to ask plenty of questions, I was able to build a positive relationship with my graduate student and PI, helping me to grow as a researcher and student. Mehak Bhardwaj ’21