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CAHNRS Department of Horticulture Genomics Lab

Undergraduate – Justine VanNatta

Justine VanNatta

Justine VanNatta


Your name and what is/was your background (what is your major, why science, etc)?
My name is Justine VanNatta and I have a bachelor’s of Liberal Arts.

Why did you decide to join a research lab? How did the experience compare to what you had expected?
I decided to join the research lab when I was studying horticulture at WSU. I decided to join the research lab because I wanted to become better at science, which is one of my weaker academic points. I was expecting a very structured and strict environment, but it wasn’t as extreme as I had expected. I learned that rules, proper procedure, and routine are important to run a successful research project. But, as with any work environment there is always time to relax, enjoy your co-workers, and the task at hand.

What was cool, exciting or most interesting about your time in the lab?
The tissue culture project that I participated in was probably the coolest project I’ve ever contributed to in the science community. Visually seeing the growth process of a tiny cutting of apple tissue transform into root cells over a relatively short amount of time was rewarding. Taking cuttings is a small step in the research project, but an important one.

If you would recommend conducting research in a science lab to others, what would you tell them to get them interested in the idea?
No matter how small a research project may seem, it can quickly become a big deal. If you participate in a research project you can quickly become a big deal too!

We’d love to know what you’re up to, so please give us a brief description of where you are working or going to school now.
I am currently living in Peoria IL with my husband who is an active duty member of the United States’ Coast Guard. I am pursuing a career in early childhood education (ECE), and plan to earn a Master’s degree in ECE.

Did the lab experience help you with your classes or your perspective about science? Did working in the lab help you with developing other skills like time management or communication?
The lab experience certainly did improve my perspective on science. I realized that science is a lot more than calculations and math, which are my weaker points. Science is hands on and a kinesthetic way of learning about the world.

Do you feel better prepared for the workplace or future academic endeavors as a result of your time in the lab?
Working in the lab became a part of the well rounded learning experience I received at WSU.