Brown had two reasons to celebrate at the 2013 Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference in San Antonio Oct. 4-6. Brown's chapter, formed just last year, won a “Role Model Award” as an outstanding new chapter, and undergraduate member David Barrera won a best poster award for his research on the effect of heat stress on tomato plant fertilization. Biology doctoral student Teresa Ramirez, a 13-year SACNAS member, founded the Brown chapter with current president and fellow biology doctoral student Marcela Soruco. “Our mission is to foster the success of students to be able to attain advanced degrees and careers and become leaders in science,” Ramirez said. “Through SACNAS I have learned about summer internship programs and to apply for graduate school and fellowships.” The chapter also connects members with mentors and performs community outreach, such as at Hope High School. In the research Barrera presented in San Antonio, he showed that under heat stress certain varieties of tomatoes can still grow their pollen tubes long enough to fertilize other plants — a necessary step to producing the crop. In future work, he said, he'll look for the genes that allow this heat resistance. “The importance of this research becomes even more apparent given that global temperatures are expected to continue rising,” he said.Read more