Meet Beth Rueschhoff
As a doctoral candidate in plant biology, Beth Rueschhoff, brings an eclectic, yet important, mixture of experiences to her poster presentation, “Investigation of the roles of Vitamin B6 in carbohydrate metabolism in Arabidopsis thaliana”, that won her first place in the Life Sciences category at the Graduate Research Symposium this year.
According to Rueschhoff, she has lived in a number of places, including Jordan and Okinawa, and attended both the University of South Florida and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to complete her bachelor’s degree in biology.
While taking education courses at Fayetteville State University, Rueschhoff enrolled in a basic botany class that sparked her interest in plants. She also taught high school biology for four years at Cape Fear High School in Fayetteville.
“I decided that I wanted to teach at a higher level, so I came to NC State to get my Ph.D. so that I could get a faculty position at a small college or university,” Rueschhoff said.
Her research with Vitamin B6 is important not only to plants, but also for humans. Because humans are unable to make their own vitamin B6, it is important that they obtain this essential nutrient from their diet. Foods that are good sources of vitamin B6 include green leafy vegetables, bananas, nuts, beans and other legumes, meats and fish.
“Vitamin B6 metabolism is not well characterized in plants, and my research will add to our body of knowledge,” Rueschhoff said.
From her studies, she is working with two mutants of the Vitamin B6 metabolic pathways – one with too much B6 and the other with too little – finding that they both have the same abnormalities.
“I am exploring this imbalance in Vitamin B6 and why the two mutant plants are similar in appearance,” Rueschhoff said. “Understanding this molecule in plants may lead to insight into metabolism in humans and also may help to develop crops improved in nutritional content or improve crops responses to environmental stress.”
While this spring’s poster presentation was not Rueschhoff’s first, she said the experience was helpful in better understanding and synthesizing her research.
“This one allowed me to condense six years of work into one space and really showcase what I have accomplished,” she said. “It allowed me to see my research as a complete story and has given me insight into how to approach my dissertation, which I will defend at the end of the summer.”
Throughout her journey, Rueschhoff said she has learned the value of persistence in work.
To other graduate students, she suggests: “Work hard and stay motivated. Before you know it, your time here will be over. The more you work now, the easier the end will be.”
When Rueschhoff is not diligently plugging away at her research, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband and pets – two dogs and three cats. She likes kayaking and yard work as well.
“I also like to read, although I haven’t gotten much of a chance to do that in graduate school,” she said. “Well, I have read a lot, but mostly things about plant physiology.”
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