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UConn Advance

Top scholar blossoms with verve for botany
By Renu Sehgal
May 2, 1997

Jaren Madden, one of two UConn students named Goldwater Scholars this year, is a drill instructor in the marching band's color guard and is in her second year as president of Tau Beta Sigma, the band's service sorority.

She also is a campus tour leader, summer orientation leader and is active in the supplemental instruction program.

But most days you can find Madden in the Plant Biotechnology Facility studying how to induce geraniums to regenerate or in a botany lab at Torrey Life Sciences Building preparing to look at the development of geraniums.

The University Scholar will graduate this month with a bachelor's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology and a master's degree in botany - simultaneously.

"You have to make time for what you want to do - there's always time as long as you're organized," Madden says. "I have time for friends and activities, too. If you want to accomplish something, you'll make time for it."

Madden, 21, a native of Mystic, began her research for her honor's thesis in 1995 on how geranium embryos develop. The study has evolved into using techniques in tissue culture and plant hormones to induce embryos in three species of geranium. She is looking at whether there are physiological differences in the geraniums, which are important commercially for landscaping and the perfume industry.

"I'm hoping it could be useful to the biotechnology industry for plant regeneration," she says. "When I started the project I didn't know it would get me this far."

Madden's research is partially funded through a National Science Foundation grant to Carol Auer, an assistant professor of plant science. The grant provides additional money for undergraduate research. Madden also was able to secure a research grant from the chancellor's office. Last year, she won a Gant scholarship for academic excellence and service and personal integrity, and the Lt. Paul L. Droch Scholarship in the biological sciences.

Madden plans to publish a paper on her work in a plant tissue culture magazine. Her project for her master's thesis will focus on the development and form of the geranium species - why the three species are different and what the differences mean.

Madden, armed with knowledge gleaned at UConn, plans to pursue a teaching and research career. "I get really excited about learning and want to share that," she says. "My friends are amazed by my enthusiasm and my love for botany."

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