Meet Ramon Molina-Bravo
Crediting his mother as his inspiration for his horticultural science pursuits, Ramon Molina-Bravo, doctoral candidate in horticultural science, won second place in the Agricultural Sciences category in this spring’s Graduate Student Research Symposium.
“I was inspired by my mother to go into the field of horticulture,” he said. “She. . . is an agronomical engineer and currently [employed as] a high school teacher in my home state in Mexico.”
Molina-Bravo’s poster presentation synthesized his research on the “Development of a Protocol to Assess Heat Tolerance in a Segregating Population of Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) for Quantitative Trait Analysis.” In this study, Molina-Bravo developed “a method to measure heat tolerance in [the] red raspberry using chlorophyll fluorescence” and applied this method to raspberry populations with varying levels of heat tolerance. With the resulting quantitative genetic analysis, future researchers can “develop molecular tools that will allow for the detection of heat tolerance early at the greenhouse level,” which will ultimately save breeders time, money and space.
“My research and the breeding program in our department are very unique,” Molina-Bravo said. “We are the only program in the world working on and researching heat tolerance in red raspberry and blackberry (Rubus spp), both molecularly and traditionally.”
While most research in heat tolerance has been conducted with agronomic crops, such as corn and wheat, Molina-Bravo said his research broadens that field to include woody perennial crops.
“For example, someone researching heat tolerance in apple can apply my method for measuring heat tolerance and perhaps look at the molecular markers associated with the trait and start looking at potentially similar chromosomal regions,” he said.
Through new technologies in heat-tolerance detection that can be tested early in plant development, breeders can choose “the material that contains the traits of interest.”
“It is very important to be able to summarize a lot of work and information into a more tangible story,” he said. “This exercise helped me to further understand my own research and how to convey the research to a broad range of audiences.”
Molina-Bravo also suggested that his interactions with his professional community have played a pivotal role in his studies.
“Always interact with all of your work community, your colleagues, your advisors, the technicians and the administrators,” he said. “They will be the ones that help you progress.”
Before joining the Wolfpack, Molina-Bravo attended New Mexico State University for his undergraduate and Master’s degrees and was inspired to study molecular breeding by Dr. Champa Sengupta-Gopalan.
“Taking her class inspired me to become more involved in genetics and molecular techniques to study plant genetics and genomics for crop improvement,” he said.
According to Molina-Bravo, his New Mexico State Master’s advisor, an NC State alumnus, recommended the university to him.
“Dr. Chris Cramer … highly recommended sending my application,” he said. “After visiting and considering several universities, I opted to accept the student position at NC State.”
When not busy with his horticultural studies, Molina-Bravo, who is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian with an elementary ability in French, enjoys learning languages and about different cultures. He also enjoys cooking, baking and canning.
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