Wanfang Fu, second year master’s student from Weifang, Shandong, China has made great progress in her research on peach breeding. Fu was recently awarded 2nd place poster at the 9th Clemson Biological Sciences Annual Student Symposium.
Get to know Wanfang and learn more about her accomplishments below!
In what field are you studying/researching?
I'm working on a peach breeding project that tests for brown rot disease resistance. I'm gathering data to help us find regions in the genome that are associated with disease resistance in the hope of developing a DNA test to determine brown rot resistance in peach stock.
How has your experience working/studying in this field helped you achieve your academic goals?
I have done some experiments and field work, which has helped me to better understand the project and have taken relevant courses that have provided me with a knowledgeable background. Also, I attended several conferences, which gave me the opportunity to meet scientists that work with similar plants and learned from their studies.
Why is this field (or research) important to you? And what made you want to get involved in it?
I would like to be a plant breeder and this project is a great introduction to that. When I was in my middle school, my family operated a walnut plantation, and it contributed to my love for plants. I spent a lot of time on this plantation. I saw trees develop from seeds, workers trimming and grafting trees, and the first walnuts grow out. Everything amazed me, so I chose non-timber forestry as my major when I stared my undergraduate study. I then decided to come to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree. I chose a major involving fruit crops and began my studies with a project involving peach breeding.
How has your professor impacted you?
Dr. Gasic helped a lot with my research. She was very hands on with my experiment and helped me with any challenges I encountered. She is a great advisor who wants to see her students succeed and I am grateful for the assistantship opportunity she provided me with.
What is the overall goal of your research/study and how will you able to achieve it?
I am currently working on completing my master’s degree. I have taken a lot of helpful courses that have allowed me to broaden my horizons, in combination with field and lab work it has helped me better understand my own research. My supervisor has offered me opportunities to attend different academic conferences, which has been a great way to network with other professionals in similar fields.
Have you faced any obstacles academically or in your research? How did you overcome them?
The language barrier was my first and largest obstacle I faced. As a non-native English speaker, I found it very challenging to effectively communicate and understand others. Fortunately, my friends helped me improve my English and I spent a lot of time after class reviewing the content. The second obstacle I faced was my lack of exposure to genetics and molecular breeding. At first I was very lost, but I took a course that correlated to my research and it became clear. My supervisor and lab members helped me by explaining the project patiently and thoroughly.
How has the Musser Fruit Research Farm enhanced your ability to do your research?
The Musser Farm is a really good place for me to transfer theory into practice. It allows me to think as a real breeder might and to consider everything in a general frame. The staff there is great and helped out with research by maintaining our plant materials.
What would you say is your biggest take-away from your research/studies?
I feel as though this research opportunity has enriched me through the relationships I have made with my supervisors, lab members and other friends in this field. It has also provided me with a great foundation of research exposure.
What are your future goals/aspirations?
In the future I hope to pursue a Ph.D. degree and continue my research on peach breeding.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.