Biology News

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz

Hannah Kinmonth-Schultz with Sarah ElliottAlthough she just started at Tech in 2022, she is already contributing to our department in important ways. Dr. Kinmonth-Schultz’s research focuses on understanding how plants integrate and respond to the myriad external factors in their environments – with a specific focus on atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Dr. Kinmonth-Schultz pointed out that, “CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere at a rate not seen for thousands of years. It’s more than twice what plants experienced 20,000 years ago. CO2 is made into sugars by plants through photosynthesis and used for their food. We know it causes changes in plant development (both accelerations and delays), but we don’t know how.”

In order to study these changes effectively, Dr. Kinmonth-Schultz needs plant growth chambers where carbon dioxide, light levels, temperature, and humidity can be controlled. The Conviron growth chambers in the Plant Physiology Lab in TN Tech’s exciting new Lab Science Commons can tightly regulate carbon dioxide and a range of other factors. With them, we can assess environmental influence on plants and prepare TN Tech’s students to address food security and ecosystem health in a dynamic and changing world.

As of 2023, the Conviron chambers have been installed, but costs for connecting the units to the main building’s power and water supplies have proven to be higher than was previously budgeted. With a $330,000 initial investment in the chambers, we are currently $125,000 short of completing this installation. These chambers are essential to the continued success of Dr. Kinmonth-Schultz at TN Tech. If you would like to be part of the effort to finish the chamber installation, please visit the Department of Biology giving page to donate. These chambers will support both students and faculty by providing new opportunities for both education and academic research.

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