Student Spotlights: January
Terry Torres-Cruz Spotlight
Terry J Torres Cruz grew up in Costa Rica. She is currently doing research at Penn State-State College with Dr. David Geiser.
Tell us about your project!
My thesis project aims to describe a potential new plant-fungal mimicry system and the potential involvement of insects in this interaction.
What awards would you like to brag about?
During my time at Penn State, I have been recognized for my leadership work inside the institution with the “2021 Student Leader Scholarship” and for my efforts to promote intercultural understanding on campus and beyond with the “2020 Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Graduate Student Award”. I was awarded the “Jose de la Torres Scholarship” and the “Black Research Fund Travel Award” in 2018 by the College of Agricultural Sciences. My department has also supported me through a variety of awards: “James F & Marilyn Tammen Memorial Endowment” in 2020 and 2021, “Leonard J. Francl Memorial Endowment” in 2020, “Larry J. Jordan Memorial Endowment” in 2018, and the “Herbert Cole Jr. Fund” in 2018.
From MSA, I have received the Clark T Rogerson Research Award in 2019 to support a field trip and the Mentor Student Travel Award in the name of James M. Trappe in 2015. When I first came to the US to start my studies in mycology in 2014, I received an award from the “Internship Incentive Fund” by the Costa Rica Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología – Consejo Nacional para Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas and an award from the “International Travel Fund” by the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica that made possible my work at Western Illinois University and opened an array of research and professional opportunities for me.
What are your career goals/plans for after you’re done your current position?
I want to start my own lab in a research institution where I can mentor students and conduct research in the tropics.
What is your favorite fungus and why?
Bifiguratus adelaidae because its description was part of my master’s work and part of the work that led me to the mycology field.
What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?
That even though there is so much research about fungi there is still so much to be discovered. And that the lack of knowledge and abundance of misinformation related to fungi in the general public actually gives US many opportunities to share our love for fungi (and knowledge) with others
Who is your mycology role model?
Drs. Andrea Porras-Alfaro and Priscila Chaverri because representation matters and seeing the amazing work they have done over the years as Costa Rican female mycologists inspires me to pursue my mycological dreams
Any great stories from field work?
A few come to mind that are funny in retrospective but were not so much in the moment, like hearing a jaguar close by and thinking that was it for me or discovering parasites under my skin after a field trip.
What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
I spend a really big part of my free time doing volunteer/leadership work through different organizations and committees. I also enjoy being a mentor to female students in STEM and participate in different mentorship opportunities. After all that there is little free time left, but I enjoy traveling to new places, being outdoors, singing, and watching TV series.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
If you want to know more about my work, please visit my website: terrytorrescruz.com Also, I have a small community science project where I ask people doing work in northern South America to report observations of the system I am working with for my main PhD project (see info on my website).