Kelly, Nathan

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Lab: Erik Runkle
Research interests: How light, specifically the color of light, alters plant growth and secondary metabolism.

Quick Profile

What got you interested in plants and plant science?
I've always loved being outdoors and around plants. This led me to get a job at a plant nursery where I learned more about plant sciences and sustainable growing practices. During my undergraduate degree, I began to really enjoy biology classes. Specifically, plant physiology and horticulture classes class caught my attention, so I continued taking those.

What is your research about?
I study how light, specifically the color of light, alters plant growth and secondary metabolism. I am mostly interested in how different colors of light-emitting diodes can be used to optimize plant quality attributes, such as color and nutritional compounds, in leafy greens. By using different colors of light to alter plant secondary metabolism, we can make leafy greens more nutritious and marketable.

What is the potential societal impact of your research?
Growing more, high quality, food with fewer resources and less land is the primary goal of our research. Light-emitting diode technology allows us to tailor the lighting spectrum to optimize plant production for specific plants. Better understanding how plants respond to their lighting environment will help us inform specialty crop growers on how to enhance their production practices to grow more food with fewer inputs. Also, understanding how light can enhance the production of some secondary metabolites may help growers produce more nutritious food.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope to be a professor at a university where I am able to continue research and communicate plant science information to other academic and industry professionals. I hope to further the field's knowledge and aid in the collective effort to feed the ever-growing population.

On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find me:
Reading a book, watching Netflix, or outside hiking enjoying the nice weather.

How has your graduate career been impacted by your campus and educational experiences?
Throughout my time at MSU, I have been amazed by how open and helpful all the faculty and staff are. So many people are ready and willing to collaborate or help you in anyway that they can.