Albert Kertho, a junior at the University of St. Thomas and an international student from Uganda, was one of 15 undergraduates from across the country awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Albert Kertho

Albert Kertho

His winning paper, “An Examination of Irradiance-Dependent Regulation of Light Harvesting Phosphorylation in Gymnosperms and Angiosperms Growing in Both Field and Manipulated Light Conditions,” earned him a 10-week stint doing research on his paper topic in a plant biology lab this summer.

Kertho shed some light, in layman’s terms, on his research: “My studies will examine one of the mechanisms that various plants have used to evolve and, therefore, survive in changing light conditions.”

“This fellowship is a stepping stone to achieving my career in plant pathology,” Kertho remarked.

After graduation, he plans to work for a year before entering graduate school to study plant pathology, the scientific study of plant diseases caused by pathogens and environmental conditions. He added, “I plan on returning to Uganda once I get a Ph.D. and maybe some work experience here. I would like to get involved in research and or become a college lecturer in the future.”

Dr. Amy Verhoeven of the Biology Department, College of Arts and Sciences, served as Kertho’s mentor and will work alongside him this summer.

Kertho and the rest of the awardees will present their SURF research results at the undergraduate and general poster sessions during the Plant Biology 2011 conference, Aug. 6-10, 2011, in Minneapolis.

Every year, the ASPB awards 15 SURF fellowships to provide opportunities for students to pursue meaningful research in plant biology at their home institutions early in their college years. SURF students must work with a mentor who is an ASPB member.