Jan. 7, 2022
As a freshman, Mason Ward applied to the Freshman Research in Plants Program hoping to broaden his academic horizons. Mentored by Debbie Finke, director of undergraduate studies and professor in the Division of Plant Science and Technology, Ward’s first research project focused on parasitoid wasp behavior on drought-stressed hosts.
“When I first started looking for potential research projects, nothing really stuck out,” Ward said. “A lot of it was related to genetics, which I wasn’t necessarily interested in. Once I found Dr. Finke, I felt like there was some potential for some really cool research that fit my interests.”
Ward, now a senior plant sciences major, recently earned the Undergraduate Student Achievement in Entomology award from the Plant-Insect Ecosystem section of the Entomological Society of America, as well as the BioQuip Products Undergraduate Scholarship from the Systematics, Evolution and Biodiversity section.
“I really never expected any of this,” Ward said. “I’m so lucky to have such a strong support system of mentorship behind me. I’m obviously very happy to receive both honors – and appreciative of the guidance that has helped get me to where I am today.”