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A poster presentation by Torres Cruz at the seventh annual Argonne Soil Metagenomics Meeting
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Torres Cruz at work in the lab
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WIU Graduate Student Presents Research at Conferences with Help of WIS Grants

February 2, 2016

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MACOMB, IL – A Western Illinois University biology graduate student from Costa Rica has been presenting the results of her academic research at numerous conferences around the United States and Canada with the help of various travel awards, one of which was granted by the WIU Women in Science (WIS) program.

Terry Torres Cruz is studying fungi that have a tolerance to heavy metals in a non-contaminated ecosystem, the Duke Forest Free Air Carbon Enrichment site in North Carolina. She was one of the students who was grated an $800 WIU-WIS Research and Scholarly Activity Scholarship that supports women engaged in research activities in STEM disciplines.

"Heavy metal tolerant fungi have been described in contaminated soils and water, but it is unknown how abundant and diverse they are in natural ecosystems," said Torres Cruz. "The objective of this project is to isolate and identify heavy metal tolerant fungi from Duke Forest soil samples and determine their abundance using next generation (Illumina) sequencing."

Through the project, Torres Cruz said she is also analyzing data that suggests nitrogen fertilization has an impact on the presence of heavy metals in soils and consequently in the fungal communities present in soils. The project is being funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Torres Cruz has had the opportunity to present her research with the help of a Mycological Society of America Travel Award and a WIU Sustainability Award to attend the Mycological Society of America Annual Meeting in Edmonton, Canada last summer. She has also attended the seventh annual Argonne Soil Metagenomics meeting last fall with help from a $200 travel award from the WIU Women in Science program and the TerraGenome Research Coordination Network.

For more information about the WIU Women in Science program, visit

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