UT young scientist Triin Vahisalu received the Women in Science fellowship award
Triin Vahisalu, young Estonain scientist with research field in plant biology, received the prestigious Women in Science fellowship award powered by L'Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science program. That makes Triin one of three best young female scientists in Europe and North-America.
Each year since 2000, L'Oreal-UNESCO International Fellowships are allocated to 15 young women researchers in the Life Sciences in five continents of the world whose promising projects have been accepted by a reputabe institution outside their home country. The three winners from Europe and North-America were from Israel, Russia and Estonia, whereby Mrs Triin Vahisalu was the first fellowship receiver from the Baltic States during the entire history of the awards. The award comes with a two-year scolarship designed to allow the scientists to carry out their studies in the research centers of their choice.
Triin Vahisalu said: "With a population of 1.4 million inhabitants, Estonia has only a few researchers specialising in plants. The fellowship provides invaluable support that will enable me to conduct research in a foreign laboratory."
With a doctorate in Plant Biology at the University of Tartu and the University of Helsinki, Triin Vahisalu, 32, is studying how plants react to changing environmental conditions.
Leaves are covered with microscopic pores called stomata. By opening and closing these pores, plants regulate the intake of carbon dioxide as a nutrient and the release of oxygen. To avoid drying out when not given enough water, plants close the stomata and slow down photosynthesis. They are constantly striving to strike a balance between maximizing carbon dioxide intake and minimizing water loss.
Triin Vahisalu has already identified the protein responsible for the regulation of stomatal closure in response to drought and ozone pollution, two factors to which plants are highly sensitive. During her fellowship, Triin plans to use Arabidopsis plants from the cabbage family, which grow in sandy soils, to analyse the mechanisms that activate this protein when ozone is detected by the plant and that deactivate the protein when the plant needs to open its stomata to take in carbon dioxide.
On returning to Estonia, Triin Vahisalu plans to continue her research in this area and hopes her findings will eventually lead to the development of more agricultural crops that are more drought resistant with lower ozone sensitivity.
Additional information: Mrs Triin Vahisalu, phone 358 442 749 504; Mr Hannes Kollist, UT Senior Research Fellow in Plant Biology, phone 737 4814, hannes.kollist [ät] ut.ee
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