#FacesOfTrentU: Philanthropy in Action

Megan Aoki, Ph.D. student in the Environmental & Life Sciences Program

Megan Aoki standing in a Lab

“My research has the potential to impact many different fields – which makes me excited for the next couple of years of my degree.” 

For Trent University Ph.D. Candidate, Megan Aoki, her strong academic progress is credited to the generous support from the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship -- apart of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship program. Thanks to the scholarship, this Environmental and Life Sciences student was able to attend her first international conference in Prague, Czech Republic, where she was selected to give a presentation on her research, all the while having the opportunity to represent Trent on a national level.

Supported by the supervision of Trent’s own Dr. Neil Emery, Dr. Craig Brunetti, and Dr. Robert Huber, Megan’s area of critical study is of a class of plant hormones known as the cytokinins. Drawn to understanding the evolution of cytokinins through the soil microbe, Dictyostelium discoideum, Megan explores how cytokinins isn’t just unique to plants, as was once believed. Since learning that cytokinins has been found in non-plant organisms such as bacteria, fungi, and even humans, Megan has directed her research to study the hormones outside of plants, in attempt to answer the question of which “plant” hormones are doing in so many non-plant organisms, and why.

Not only are Megan’s observations and critical analysis so significant to her field, but they have additional broad impacts in the fields of agriculture and medicine as well. In medicine specifically, cytokinins act as anticancer agents against cancer cells, giving Megan’s work added value and promise for new discoveries.