Alison Scott | Spotlight

First botany in British Columbia, now microbiology in Brazil

NSF sends LSAMP student Scott south for international research

Alison Scott displays a collection of 300 tree samples ready for DNA analysis.

Equipped with a Portuguese textbook and a strong science background, Cal State L.A. biology major Alison Scott is in Brazil this summer to conduct research in microbiology.

For ten weeks, Scott will conduct lab research at the Universidade de São Paulo, the largest higher education and research institution in Brazil. She is there representing a new LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) Center for International Research program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). She is one of only 16 students selected from throughout the U.S.

In a note to Cal State L.A. President James M. Rosser, Randy Duran, director of the NSF Center for International Research, wrote: “In DC, [Scott] stood out as the only student in the entire group who not only knows biology, but also is proficient in the highly quantitative technique of ‘surface plasmon evanescent wave spectroscopy.’ …Given her scientific, interpersonal and academic skills coupled with a clear sense of seeking adventures, this Cal State L.A. student will go far.”

Describing her trip to Brazil, Scott said, “It’s a great opportunity. You get to travel and you get to work in a lab in an international setting. It’s about diversity. To do science research, you have to demonstrate that you are able to work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.”

At Cal State L.A., under the mentorship of Professor Feimeng Zhou, Scott has conducted research on metallothionein, a relatively small rich protein that binds metal. She shared, “I didn’t know that undergraduates did research before I was asked. I didn’t think I was good enough to do research when Dr. Zhou approached me. It can be a good confidence booster.”

Photo of large number of students in front of Albert Einstein Statue.
Where’s Alison? Click for a close-up.

Another NSF-funded program at Cal State L.A.—Undergraduate Mentoring in Environmental Biology (UMEB)—funds Scott’s research in plant genomics. Under the guidance of Professor Stacey Thompson, she is examining the DNA of western red cedar trees to identify correlations between environmental factors and the frequency of asexual reproduction through clonal growth. During spring break, she traveled to British Columbia, Canada, to gather 300 clippings from 60 trees at five different sites.

Born in Burbank, she attended Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, FL. After living in Texas, Mississippi and Florida, she decided to graduate from high school a year early and move back to California in 2005 to attend college in Los Angeles.

Upon completing her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences next spring, she plans to apply directly into a Ph.D. program in botany to pursue a career in academic research.

The LSAMP program at Cal State L.A. also supported travel for Scott to explore graduate school and research opportunities in California.

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