Robert Swanson

Robert Swanson
Mentor: Dr. Thomas Colquhoun
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
"At the beginning of freshman year I became inspired by my professors to become engaged in the available research opportunities on campus. I wanted to learn how to think like a scientist and develop a strong, fundamental background in scientific research and analysis that will continue on into my future career in medicine. "


Microbiology and Cell Science; Food Science and Human Nutrition



Research Interests

  • Plant Biotechnology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medicine

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program
  • Eugene Chester Terzenbach Memorial Scholarship
  • President's Honor Roll
  • Florida Bright Futures


  • Orange and Bluegrass
  • Alpha Epsilon Delta
  • UF French Club


  • Mobile Outreach Clinic
  • UF Health Shands Hospital - General Radiology
  • UF Health Eye Center

Hobbies and Interests

  • Bluegrass Music
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Ichthyology

Research Description

Phytorecptor PhPHY1F role in petunia hybrida floral volatile benzoid/phenylpropanoid pathway
Petunia x hybrida cv. “Mitchell Diploid” (MD), an angiosperm, releases floral fragrances in order to adjust and interact to its surrounding environment. For example, floral fragrance can be stress induced, used for attraction of pollinators for reproduction, and even modified in response by discrete wavelengths of the visible light spectrum. The floral volatile benzoid/phenylpropanoid pathway (FVBP) is the backbone of production for MD floral emission. The shikimate pathway leads into it, providing the aromatic amino acid phenylalanine, the last common precursor of the FVBP. The FVBP can be regulated at many different levels and its gene network is of much importance to fully understand. The organization of FVBP compound emission provides for reasonable and justifiable hypotheses of gene expression responsible for biosynthesis of particular floral emissions. By locating the gene of interest through sequence database comparison to the petunia homologous Arabidopsis thaliana, this allows us to make stronger hypotheses of gene-specific characteristics. The PhPHY1F transcript is my main focus. Non-repressed PhPHY1F is what we hypothesize to be a putative phytoreceptor (phytochrome) that partakes in response to far-red light induction with increased production of particular FVBP compounds. By silencing the selected transcript through knockdown processes, we will compare data to that of the wild-type MD petunia. Characterization of the transgenic PhPHY1F plants will occur through physiological phenotyping, comparative transcriptional profiling, and the collection and analysis of plant floral volatile emission. Assay of the effects will ultimately be observed over multiple crop generations.