Plantae Presents: Celebrating Women in Plant Science

Plantae Presents: Celebrating Women in Plant Science

Featuring Dr. Thelma Madzima, Dr. Burcu Alptekin, and Dr. Gitanjali Yadav

When: Thursday, March 21, 2024, at

8:00 AM PDT | 11:00 AM EDT | 4:00 PM GMT | 8:30 PM IST

About this Webinar

Join us for an enriching webinar, “Celebrating Women in Plant Sciences,” where three distinguished women scientists in the field will share their captivating stories, experiences, challenges, and triumphs. Delve into their journeys, from overcoming obstacles to seizing opportunities, as they inspire and empower women in plant sciences and beyond. This event promises to illuminate the diverse contributions of women in shaping the landscape of botanical research and environmental sustainability. Don’t miss this opportunity to be inspired and motivated by their remarkable narratives. Register now to celebrate the achievements and resilience of women in plant sciences.

Hosted by the 2024 Plantae Fellows.


Dr. Thelma Madzima

Dr. Madzima recently joined the faculty at Michigan State University as an 1855 Associate Professor of Diversity and Data Science in the Department of Plant Biology. Previously, she was an Associate Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Washington Bothell. She received her bachelor’s degree in plant science/biotechnology in 2004 from Fort Valley State University, a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) and her PhD in plant molecular and cellular biology from the University of Florida in 2009 with Dr. Kevin Folta, where she was the recipient of the University of Florida Alumni Association Graduate Research Fellowship. Upon completion of her graduate training, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Karen McGinnis at Florida State University as a postdoctoral scholar. The overarching goal of her research program is to understand how epigenetic mechanisms facilitate growth, development, and response to abiotic stress stimuli in crop plants. Her research interests stem from her upbringing in Zimbabwe, where she witnessed firsthand the devastating impacts of drought on agricultural productivity and human livelihood. Dr. Madzima is dedicated to broadening the participation of individuals from groups underrepresented in STEM and is involved in several minority recruitment and retention activities within the scientific community. She previously served on the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee (EDIC). She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Maize Genetics Cooperation (MGC), the MGC Advocacy Committee and the MGC Committee on Outreach, Diversity, Inclusion and Education (CODIE). In recognition of her efforts, she was recently awarded the 2021 UW Bothell School of STEM Inclusive Service Award, the 2022 MGC Leadership Award, 2022 ASPB Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award, and the 2022 ASPB Excellence in Education Award. You can find her on X: @thelma_madzima.

Dr. Burcu Alptekin

Dr. Alptekin is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was born and raised in Istanbul/Turkey, where she also received her BSc in molecular biology and genetics from Istanbul Technical University. In 2016, she moved to the US to pursue her graduate degree and received her PhD in plant genetics from Montana State University in 2020. Her research aims to improve the abiotic stress tolerance of modern-day crops through omics, molecular genetics, and beneficial plant-microbe interactions. As a first-generation, international woman in science, Burcu is committed to increasing the representation of women in plant science. Along with her various DEI–related activities at UW-Madison, she is an early career representative at the Women in Plant Science Committee of ASPB. You can find her on X: @burcuplants.


Dr. Gitanjali Yadav

Dr. Yadav is a Scientist at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research (NIPGR), New Delhi and a Professor of Data Science at the Indian Institute of Science, Education, and Research (IISER) in Bhopal, India. She is an expert in AI for Genomics with applications in food security and conservation. Dr. Yadav is a Trustee of St. Edmund’s College at the University of Cambridge and co-chairs the International Data Policy Committee (IDPC) of CODATA. She has a diverse educational background with a graduate degree with Honors in botany, followed by a postgraduate degree in biomedical research, and a PhD in computational immunology. She is a strong advocate of Open Notebook Science, and has been recognized globally for her work, e.g., the INSA Medal, the Obaid Siddiqi Life Science Award, Yusuf Hamied Award from Cambridge, and Exceptional Talent Award from the Royal Society of London. You can find her on X: @gilienv.



Prakshi Aneja 

Prakshi is a PhD scholar at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research in India and a 2022 Plantae Fellow. Her current research focuses on leaf development, particularly understanding the genetic basis and cellular morphogenesis during the development of leaves in third dimension. Besides research, Prakshi is passionate about music and loves playing the guitar. She is also an amateur photographer and enjoys snapping photos of nature. You can find her on X: @PrakshiAneja.




Abira Sahu

Abira is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Michigan State University Plant Research Laboratory. She was born and raised in Kolkata, India. She received a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from Heritage Institute of Technology, Kolkata. She moved to the US in 2015 to pursue graduate studies and received a PhD in biology from Texas A&M University in 2020. During her PhD, she studied spatiotemporal regulation of phosphate homeostasis in root developmental zones. Her current research focuses on the regulation of isoprene emission from plants and its significance in modulating the atmospheric chemistry as well as plant physiology and stress tolerance. Outside of the lab, she enjoys painting and making digital art. You can find her on X: @AbiraSahu.


Alice Pierce

Alice is a Plant Biology PhD Candidate at the University of California, Davis. She studies the relationship between intron architecture and chromatin biology. She received her BS from UC Davis in plant biotechnology, studying the effects of Intron-Mediated Enhancement on gene expression in plants. Outside of the lab, she enjoys participating in K-16 outreach and making science art. You can find her on X: @alicevpierce.




Isabel Pochet-Pimentel

Isabel works with plant-bacteria interactions in the context of nitrogen limitation. She is interested to find out how plants communicate with microorganisms to survive under poor environmental conditions. You can find her on X: @isabelpochet.