Pumpkin project gives student greenhouse experience
Kayla Vittore, junior in crop sciences, James Scholar and former ACES Ignite Fellow.
Photo by Montgomery Flack, Sarah Hind (inset photo)
November 25, 2020

Over the past several months, students like Kayla Vittore have had to adapt to ever-changing requirements and restrictions due to COVID-19. While these rules can be difficult to adapt to when working with other people, the situation is much easier for budding scientists like Kayla who work with non-human organisms likes plants and bacteria.

Since returning to campus in August, Kayla has been working on a project to characterize when pumpkin fruits are most susceptible to developing a bacterial disease called bacterial spot of cucurbits. This project requires countless hours of work in a greenhouse taking care of the pumpkin plants and performing cross-pollination between the large male and female flowers. Because the flowers are only open for one day, Kayla spends a lot of time in the greenhouse when the plants are flowering.

“It's an exciting way to start the day, coming into the greenhouse and wondering how many female flowers might be waiting to greet me that morning,” Kayla says. “Watching the pumpkins slowly develop is also wonderful, and I love getting to see them grow through the different stages of development. It almost makes me sad when it's time to infect the plants, but I know it's all worth it if the data can help farmers have healthier crops!”