Rachel Wins 2nd Place at the GRS in the PhD Research Category

March 27, 2024
Rachel smiling next to her research poster

Congratulations to Rachel Combs-Giroir for taking home 2nd place in the PhD Research Category at the Graduate Research Symposium. The Graduate Research Symposium is an annual event hosted by the HCS Graduate Student Association that provides HCS students and faculty from both our Wooster and Columbus campuses to come together to share their research!

Rachel is currently pursuing her PhD degree under the advisement of Dr. Andrea Gschwend and just successfully defended her PhD Dissertation. In her words "my work is focused on investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying flooding tolerance in a biofuel cover crop called field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense). Pennycress has extreme cold hardiness which allows for off-season integration into Midwest corn and soybean fields, however, these fields are susceptible to flooding from winter snow melt and heavy spring rainfall. My research objectives are to characterize the morpho-physiological and genetic responses of pennycress natural accessions to waterlogging to identify natural variation in waterlogging tolerance. This involves RNA-sequencing to look at gene expression patterns between waterlogging tolerant and non-tolerant accessions, and functional validation of candidate waterlogging-tolerant genes using EMS mutants and gene-editing. This research is funded by the DOE Integrated Pennycress Resilience Project (pennycressresilience.org)." 

We're thrilled to have Rachel in our department and fortunately she had a few moments to shed some further insight into her experiences at the 2024 Graduate Research Symposium...


I feel very honored to have won a flash talk award and to have placed next to two other phenomenal PhD students.


My favorite part of the GRS was getting to hear about everyone's research projects and their progress. As a graduating student, I also really enjoyed the alumni panel. I found their advice insightful and impactful.

Rachel (far left) and Cullen smiling holding their awards

Closing Thoughts?

I would like to say thank you to the GRS planning committee for their hard work and dedication in putting on an excellent and successful event. 

Eager for more news from our 2024 Graduate Research Symposium? You're in luck - check out all the articles here.