Student Researcher Bios: Ameerah Ahmad & Jay Lema

Hi all! I’m Ameerah Ahmad, an upcoming senior in the Summer Science Institute program (SSI). Before I get into the research I’m working on with my mentor Hilary and lab partner Jay, I want to introduce SSI, how I came to be apart of it, and also just a little about myself. I wanted to explore my fields of interest in new ways other than in the traditional classroom setting. I am interested in Botany for its wide ranging real-world applications, like in biofuel production and countering the effects of global climate change. These wants, as well as the looming college application process just months away, led me to SSI – a college preparatory program that aims to include and educate a diverse community of students in research laboratories throughout madison. I come from a diverse background myself, with an immigrant Palestinian father and an American mother. I’m also Muslim and am currently practicing Ramadan – which makes doing summer research all the better! Other than getting down and dirty in our lovely Corral, I like to read, play field hockey, and run for track.

With senior year approaching, I have a lot I want to accomplish this summer – including  getting a nice long rest. With that in mind, my goals also include gaining lots of research experience for college and (hopefully) my future career in neuroscience, enhancing my public speaking skills, and making new friendships that’ll last beyond just the summer. I hope to do a lot of introspection on myself to prepare for college essays and the stresses of senior year. Fortunately I have SSI to help me with these goals and I can’t wait to put my background and skills gained in SSI to work and to have a great senior year!

Ameerah weeding the experimental pots

Ameerah weeding the experimental pots

My name is Jay Lema and I am from Madison, WI. I am seventeen and will be a senior at La Follette high school in the fall. After I graduate I hope to go the the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I haven’t decided exactly what I want to major in but I have been thinking about either environmental science or something in agriculture. Outside of school my main interests are running and biking. I am in track and cross country so running is something I really enjoy doing. I also like going on long bike rides and one of my future goals is to do an Ironman.

I am enjoying the research I have done so far and I am excited to see the results at the end of the summer. Biology has always been my favorite subject in school and SSI has shown me how many opportunities there are in college and in the workforce to study whatever topic interests you. I hope to continue learning about new fields of science as the summer goes on.

Jay weeding the experimental pots

Jay weeding the experimental pots

Our project, “Aspen’s tolerance to herbivory in different environments”, is based in the Richard Lindroth Lab but most of the hands-on research is done at a plot nearby (pictured below) and a much bigger plot a ways away. The goal of our research is to determine  how different genotypes (i.e. clones) of aspen grown in different environments respond to artificial herbivory. So far, we have been getting to know the basics of lab safety and biology, and have been tending the Aspen trees (watering and weeding) for data collection later. It’s not what you expect when you hear ‘research’ but we are so happy to be doing it!  At the end of the summer, we will present our research in front of a large group of people at the final SSI research symposium!

Genotype x Environment Interaction Common Garden

Genotype x Environment Interaction Common Garden

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