FAU High School – Jupiter Campus, in Partnership with Max Planck Academy, Senior Research Reflection: Natasha Mayorga
by Natasha Mayorga | Monday, Dec 20, 2021
I am a sophomore at FAU High School – Jupiter Campus, in Partnership with Max Planck Academy, studying at the Wilkes Honors College with the intention of obtaining a bachelor's degree as a biochemistry major. My research interests mainly include biological areas - notably, biotechnology. I have explored the field of microbiology through my continued participation in the Science and Engineering Fair where, in 2020, I won third place for my project "Could Mycorrhizal Fungi Survive on Mars?".
Mycorrhizae form a symbiotic relationship with most plants on Earth, playing a crucial role in the development and sustained health of plants by acting as an extension of the root system, allowing plants to absorb more nutrients and water. The aim of my project was to determine if mycorrhizae fungus could survive on Mars, as this fungus could significantly improve the chances of plants growing extraterrestrially, and thus, advance Martian colonization. I was able to gain experience working in the Owls Imaging Lab to stain and quantify the mycorrhizae as part of this project. The following year (2021), I worked in Dr. Daniela Scheurle’s microbiology lab to examine the antibacterial effects of native Floridian weeds with the ultimate goal of repurposing these abundant plants into a low-cost antibiotic targeting harmful bacteria. After gaining this research exposure, I am looking forward to my continued participation in the science fair, as well as pursuing research opportunities in the field of biomedical research.