Student Spotlight: Heena Puri

Heena Puri
Meet Heena Puri, a doctorate student in entomology from Punjab, India.
January 26, 2023

Hometown: Punjab, India

Major: Entomology  

Anticipated Date of Graduation: Spring 2023  

Why did you decide to come to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln? 

In 2019, when I was looking for a Ph.D. position, I found the research work of the Molecular Plant-Insect Interactions Lab at UNL aligned with my interests which drew my attention to apply for the position. I was aware of the fact that the department of entomology provides ample space for enhancing research and soft skills during the program. I am very fortunate to be part of UNL.   

What is your favorite thing about the University of Nebraska-Lincoln? 

I like the vast number of opportunities provided by UNL for individual growth and professional development. UNL makes continuous efforts to support student activities and every day comes here as a new learning opportunity. People at school are very kind and helpful.  

What about diversity and inclusion is important to you when you think about your CASNR experience? 

CASNR cares about diversity and inclusion for the students. I feel welcome and delighted during the different events organized by CASNR during the year. Those events provide the chance to meet people from different departments and connect with them.   

Exposure to cultural differences is a huge part of college. What activity have you recently participated in that is different from what you are used to in your culture? This could be something you read, listened to, watched, eaten, or otherwise took part in. What did you learn from this activity?  

This is a gratitude to the East Union dining hall staff for preparing different cuisines around the world. I believe, this idea of bringing people together from different countries via food and making them feel belonged is highly appreciated.  

What is your favorite class you have taken so far and why? 

My favorite class so far is Plant Biochemistry offered by the Biochemistry department because it is very fascinating to know and understand how plant metabolism works. This course changed my vision for looking at live organisms and thinking of how thousands of reactions and interactions among molecules are going in a body. My research work also revolves around plant biochemistry concepts which helped me to understand plant science better.  

What are your plans post-graduation? 

I intend to continue doing research in the area of crop protection on the development of strategies for the management of agricultural pests. I want to apply the knowledge I gained about crop protection in my academic years to contribute to global food security. I am open to working in either academics or industry settings. 

What's life like outside of school? 

I like hanging out with my friends, visiting different restaurants around Lincoln, and exploring my artistic skills as my all-time hobby.  

What scholarships, if any, have you received? 

I am honored to receive the following fellowships from UNL: Fred Clute Memorial Fellowship 2022, Widaman Distinguished Graduate Assistant Award 2022, Myron Swenk Travel Grant 2022, Life Sciences Graduate Fellowship Award 2021, Milton E. Mohr Biotechnology Award 2021, Hardin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship 2021, Othmer Fellowship 2020. I have also received Graduate Student Scholarship, 2022 and P-IE Kenneth and Barbara Starks Plant Resistance to Insects Graduate Student Award, 2022 from the Entomological Society of America (ESA).