Crystal Conner

Mentor: Dr. David Norman
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"My affinity for research began in the fourth grade. I enjoyed Science but never quite understood it's application.I was placed in gifted courses that afforded me the ability to incorporate laboratory days once a week which continued throughout high school. After a Internship at Agristarts working on their World Research Coffee Study with their R&D team Sophomore year, my passion for research amplified and i knew that this would be my chosen path."


Plant Science



Research Interests

  • Biotechnology
  • Breeding
  • Propagation

Academic Awards

  • Dean's List
  • Sweetwater Oaks Garden Club Scholarship
  • Bloom and Grow Garden Club Scholarship
  • The Garden Club at Halifax Scholarship


  • CALS Ambassador
  • Environmental Horticulture Club Member
  • American Society for Horticultural Science Member


  • TPIE
  • IPPS

Hobbies and Interests

  • Karaoke
  • Listening/Playing Music
  • Dancing
  • Volunteering

Research Description

Overexpression and Silencing of Genes in Solanaceae spp.
Ralstonia solanacearum is the causal agent of Bacterial Blight. It infects more than 200 plant species and causes severe economic damages in important crops such as Tomato, Potato and Banana. It uses a Type III secretion system to transfer virulence factors to host plants cytoplasm. Not much is known about the interaction between these virulence factors and the host plant defense system. We have identified target for one of these virulence factors in Tomato. My project involves over-expression of this tomato target gene in tobacco using agrobacterium mediated transformation system and generating stable transgenic plants. These transgenic plants would then be tested for their response to Ralstonia infection and disease response. In tomato, I am silencing this target using Crispr/Cas9 and transgenic plants would be tested again for their response to Ralstonia infection. This project would hopefully lead to understanding the Ralstonia disease process and developing of resistant crops.