Matthew Venezia ’23 — the URECA Researcher of the Month for January — is a senior majoring in biology with a minor in writing and rhetoric whose deep interest in plant biology and biotechnology was sparked early on as a participant in Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Partners for the Future Program for talented Long Island high school students. In his freshman year at Stony Brook, Venezia started interning with the Grow More Foundation, a non-profit organization seeking to use plant science to address global issues of food insecurity. In his ensuing roles as head intern and research associate, Venezia worked on everything from scientific communication of plant biotechnology concepts to doing and overseeing laboratory work on gene editing. In September 2021, he first-authored and published a review paper together with the organization’s founder, KM Creasey Krainer, on CRISPR-based gene editing in crops in Frontiers in Plant Biology.
On campus, Venezia joined the laboratory of Vitaly Citovsky, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, from August 2020 to May 2022 to study the mechanism of movement of viruses in plants and to build on his laboratory techniques in PCR and qPCR. He also interned in the Jackson Lab at Cold Spring Harbor in Summer 2021, where he honed his laboratory and field skills while studying genes and signals that regulate plant growth and architecture.
In early 2022, Venezia was selected for the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Summer Undergraduate Research Program, where he had the opportunity to work in the Navlakha lab to study the development of mathematical optimization patterns in plant leaves. He presented a talk entitled “Elucidating the Developmental Process of Voronoi Patterning in Leaves of Pilea peperomioides” at the end of the program and was subsequently offered and accepted a position in the lab to continue his project.
Following graduation from Stony Brook, Venezia plans to continue to build skills in coding and gain more experience in the plant biotech field before pursuing further graduate training. On campus, he has served as a contributing writer for The Statesman from July 2020 to the present.
Read the interview with URECA Director Karen Kernan.