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Irene Roman Martinez Completes M.S. Degree in Plant Sciences

Roman Martinez's ambition is to aid in the growth of sustainable agriculture in her home region.
Irene Roman Martinez Completes M.S. Degree in Plant Sciences

Irene Roman Martinez (left) with advisor Dr. Asunta Thompson

Puerto Rico native Irene Román Martínez presented her NDSU Plant Sciences M.S. exit seminar on Friday, November 8. Irene has been attending NDSU since she first arrived on campus for an internship in 2010. She says, “NDSU and the Plant Sciences Department are a great choice for any student looking into developing their career in agriculture and related areas since they are very well prepared to provide you with the knowledge and field/laboratory experience needed to develop into a well-rounded professional. The best part of the Plant Sciences Department is that you get the chance to be very hands-on in the work.”

Irene’s thesis, Glycoalkaloid Profiling of Potato Genotypes from the North Dakota State University Potato Breeding Program, evaluates the presence and distribution of glycoalkaloids in potato foliage and tubers. While glycoalkaloids are harmful for human consumption in high concentrations, they act as natural defense mechanisms against potato foliage pests such as the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say) (CPB).  Carefully managing these compounds in a potato breeding program could effectively help in the control of the CPB and other pests that cause yield reduction by defoliation in the field or by vectoring diseases, all while developing potato varieties more safe for human consumption. Furthermore, a decrease in chemical inputs, like pesticides, will be beneficial for the project, the growers’ profit, industry stakeholders, the environment and consumers.

Of her future, Irene says, “My goal is to be of aid in the growth of sustainable agriculture for the local grower and consumer in Puerto Rico and adjacent islands.” Irene’s accomplishments thus far, including internships with NDSU, Iowa State University’s Winter Nursery in Isabela, Puerto Rico, and Monsanto, as well as awards from the NDSU Development Foundation, a Green and Golden Diversity Award, and playing an active role in NDSU’s Graduate Student Association and Hispanic Organization of Latin America, as President, will surely add to her future success.

Irene Román Martínez’s graduate committee included Dr. Edward Deckard, Dr. Deirdre Prischmann-Voldseth, and Dr. Senay Simsek. Her advisor was Dr. Asunta Thompson.

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