Department of Horticulture and Crop Science
Sustainable Plant Systems - Horticulture
As a plant scientist with experience in the field and in a university setting, Ava Forystek’s summer 2021 internship with Corteva in Indianapolis was a chance to apply her skills in an all-new setting: the agriscience industry. As a part of Corteva’s Plant Pathology Controlled Environment Discovery and Development Group, she learned valuable professional skills including collaboration, teamwork, networking, and time management. There she assisted with various industrial fungicides currently in development, testing for various factors such as rainfastness, UV response, curative activity, and efficacy. She had the unique opportunity to shadow work in other functional areas including apiaries and toured a high-tech plant factory. Ava considers it her most valuable learning experience.
In addition to her time at Corteva, in 2019 Ava traveled to Peking University in Beijing, China for the World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan Internship. There she assisted on a project investigating Rice Dwarf Virus by analyzing various auxins, auxin signaling pathways, and auxin signal repressors and their role in plant antiviral responses. Her work unfolded both in the lab and in rice paddies, an all-new experience for Ava. She considers her success in the internship to be one of her greatest accomplishments; she learned to have faith in herself and in her skills and gained confidence in her ability to thrive under any conditions.
In 2020, Ava was named World Food Prize Wallace Carver Fellow and worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Geneva, New York. At the Viticulture Plant Genetic Resources Unit at Cornell University, she was responsible for identifying grape pathogens in a vineyard and helped train a machine learning algorithm for disease detection.
Ava took advantage of research opportunities as an undergraduate as well, assisting on a 2018-2019 project focused on restoration of the endangered Trifolium stoloniferum, or Running Buffalo Clover. She was responsible for the propagation of hundreds of new plants and helped reestablish natural populations of the species throughout Southern Ohio. DNA Ava extracted from known populations was studied to better understand the genetic variance between populations. As of August 5, 2021, the Running Buffalo Clover was considered recovered.
As her mentor, Ava recognizes Dr. Wendy Klooster. Ava shares, “She has assisted me throughout my graduate school application process, helped me achieve my academic goals, and has also supported my efforts with Pi Alpha Xi as its student organization advisor. Having been my professor, academic advisor, and student organization advisor, Dr. Klooster has been an important part of my academic career and time at Ohio State University. She has been incredibly helpful and supportive throughout my undergrad, and I am very thankful for all she has done.”
An active four-year member and current vice president of Pi Alpha Xi Horticultural Honors Society, Ava is in the process of applying for graduate programs within plant sciences, with hopes of one day running her own research lab at a university.
Service, involvement, and accolades: Pi Alpha Xi Horticultural Honors Society, vice president and other leadership roles | Wallace Carver Fellowship