Apr 15, 2022 | Lauren Perkins Each year the Huntsville Association of Small Business in Advanced Technology (HASBAT) awards three $1,500 academic scholarships to students from north Alabama universities. HASBAT, a non-profit organization, was founded in May of 1993 by local small technology companies to represent and promote the views and interests of small businesses in advanced technology and to support the development of opportunities within the federal, state, and/or local governments. Alexa Nolan, biology major with a concentration in biochemistry, is one of the 2022-2023 award recipients. Alexa first approached Dr. Paul Wolf in the Biological Sciences Department about doing undergraduate research in my lab as part of her honors project. She is among the top 2% of undergraduates I have encountered in the last 30 years as a researcher. She is bright, creative, self-motivated, and has an unusually high level of initiative and discipline. Any lab that hosts her will appreciate her dedication to research. Dr. Wolf has several active research projects involving plant culture, and he "handed Alexa a task that I knew would be challenging, and frankly, did not expect her to be able to complete," he says. "I was wrong." Alexa experimented with tissue culture conditions, and has been able to develop successful growth conditions for the fern gametophytes. "Alexa did this with very little guidance from me. She not only explored growth conditions, but also found a cost-effective equipment setup. Furthermore, Alexa noticed some differences in the plants growing in slightly different light conditions and is now developing a proposal to examine this in more detail, focusing on the photosynthetic pigments in these plants," he says. After graduation, Alexa is is staying at UAH as a part of the JUMP program to obtain her Masters in Biology under Dr. Wolf. She hopes to continue her work in plant and agricultural genomics at HudsonAlpha as a part of the Swaminathan Lab. She plans to obtain her PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics and continue to research plant genomics. "My dream job would be to work as a research scientist at The Land, a greenhouse and pavilion in Walt Disney World's Epcot park," she says.