You Say Tomato, These Merrimack Students Say Research Opportunity

Kajal Purohit M’24 and Erin Lincoln ’24 are working this academic year as research assistants on Associate Professor Azam Noori’s National Science Foundation grant to examine the impact of silver and nanomaterials on tomatoes.
Photo of Erin Lincoln ’24 and Kajal Purohit M’24 looking at a laptop next to tomato plants.

Kajal Purohit M’24 sought an opportunity to do research in the U.S. Erin Lincoln ’24 wanted to try her hand at research work in an academic setting after an analytical research summer internship with Pfizer.

Associate Professor Azam Noori’s National Science Foundation grant, awarded in 2023, to examine nanoparticles’ impact on plant life and ultimately human health fulfilled both of those aspirations. Purohit and Lincoln have worked this academic year supporting Noori’s work. Specifically, the team is researching how silver enters, travels through and impacts tomatoes.

“I was doing similar research in India in nanoscience and plant science and when I started to look at places in the U.S., I found Merrimack,” said Purohit. “So many people are interested in nanosciences and we are learning more about how heavy metal impacts plants. So if we can learn how to eliminate heavy metal in plants, it will be a game changer.”

Purohit has been researching nano and plant science since for about four years and has published three papers on the topic. She is learning several new techniques working in Noori’s lab including how to use a confocal microscope, which uses a spatial pinhole to increase optical resolution.

“It is going to be great for my future and I am really happy I am doing this here,” said Purohit. “When I am in the lab I am just so happy. I have this sense of satisfaction that I love the work I am doing.”

Lincoln, a biology major, had already taken Noori’s natural medicine course and was excited to continue to learn from her in a lab setting. One aspect of this research work that Lincoln has enjoyed is how involved she is in the entire process from sample prep to data analysis.

“We get to be there through the whole process, which is very fulfilling,” said Lincoln.

She said she appreciates Noori’s focus on the research assistants acquiring new skills that will set them apart in future job searches. Lincoln has also been able to incorporate her passion for art into the research. She is currently working on scientific abstracts related to the research that could be included with future published papers.

“Dr. Noori is a great professor,” said Lincoln. “She pushes you to do critical thinking and that is a great skill. I’ve had a great experience with her.”

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