Sneha Gupta: Humans of BioSciences

Meet Sneha Gupta, who recently submitted her PhD on the impacts of soil salinity on global agriculture and productivity. Sneha shares what she will be doing next and the newly discovered benefits of post PhD-submission, sleeping and yoga.

What was your PhD focused on?

My PhD is focused on soil salinity, an important problem that impacts agriculture globally. A sustainable approach for improving productivity is to adopt beneficial microorganisms to enhance the supply of soil nutrients to plants in stressful environments.

Working with a beneficial endophytic fungus- Trichoderma harzianum T-22 and a cereal crop-barley, I was able to demonstrate that T-22 enhances barley crop growth and nutrient uptake in saline conditions. The fungus symbiotically lives inside the roots and triggers beneficial biochemical and metabolic changes. This is really exciting because it means that that the application of plant-microbe interactions will improve agricultural productivity.

My primary supervisors were Professor Ute Roessner from The School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, Associate Professor Penelope Smith from La Trobe University and Dr Siria Natera from Metabolomics Australia.

Sneha with her barley crops

What does your future hold/ what are you aiming to do next?

I submitted one week ago and so am determined to do the following at present: no work, only meditation, yoga and sleep!

Next, as per Stephen Covey's famous saying - “You can’t have fruits without the roots“, I hope to start work as a postdoc working on roots as this arena is vast and I still have so much plant science to dig into. I aim to use my knowledge and experience gained from my PhD and Masters, on studying the use of microbes in enhancing the productivity of agriculture and measure those changes in roots particularly as these organs are the first ones to get exposed to any biotic or abiotic stress.

What has been your highlight so far at the University of Melbourne?

My experience here at the University has been incredible with high-class research and opportunities to collaborate with experts from different parts of the world. I've also travelled internationally and participated in conferences where I have developed really beneficial networks.

What do you like best about Melbourne:

Speaking about Melbourne, it definitely is one of the best cities in the world and is so welcoming. I love exploring the unique and character filled streets, and the diversity of food available seems endless. And how can I forget about the coffee, certainly one of the best around the world. In fact I love Melbourne's food and coffee so much I blog about it on Instagram.

Since I live close to the beach and the Royal Botanic Gardens, my evenings are always occupied either by walking along the shore listening to the sound of the waves or hearing beautiful chirps from the birds in the gardens. I came here as an International student and am proud to call myself a citizen of this wonderful country today.

'Humans of BioSciences' is a special new series to introduce the School of BioSciences' undergrad and postgrad students, our academics, professional staff and associates.