By Angelina Costain
Biology PhD graduate Donna Lindsay.
Photo by Colleen MacPherson
Ask Donna Lindsay about her PhD research in the Department of Biology and she will tell you instead about the academic achievements of her four sons, also students at the University of Saskatchewan, insisting that what they do is much more interesting.
If you were to dig a little deeper, however, you will find Lindsay has a few accomplishments of her own to talk about, and that they too are interesting in their own right.
A recent graduate of the U of S, Lindsay has a somewhat varied academic history. She received a B.Sc. in Paleobiology, an interdisciplinary program combining Geology, Archeology, and Biology, followed shortly thereafter by a MSc in Geology with a focus on Paleobotany. When it came time for her to begin her doctorate, Lindsay says she felt it would be prudent to switch her focus from Geology to Biology, adding that “although the botanical emphasis remains, the experimental protocols are very different.”
The object of Lindsay’s study was to introduce a growth-promoting hormone to plants in order to observe the genetic response. Using Arabidopsis as the model plant, she added a somewhat higher level of the growth hormone cytokinin than already occurs naturally. One of the results was an increase in floral organs (extra petals, stamens, etc.) that was also carried to the next generation.
As Lindsay explains, the intent was not to develop some new variety of flower, but “to exaggerate the effect of the growth hormone to find the pathways that cytokinin works,” to see how the hormone regulates plant responses to environment and development at the genetic level.
Research aside, Lindsay’s broad experience includes several publications, a number of presentations, and contributions to public education. Even her fieldwork tells an interesting story. Starting in 1994, she accompanied Geology professor Jim Bassinger to Eastend to help excavate the then newly discovered Tyrannosaurus rex, Scotty. Over the next 10 years, her fieldwork involved collecting fossilized plant specimens, making five to trips to various locations in the Artic as well as one to Ashland, New York.
Angelina Costain is a student writer with the College of Graduate Studies and Research.