Fulbright Scholar Dr. Vivian Panes Conducts Research at the University of Maine

SBE would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Vivian Panes, a visiting researcher from the Philippines spending six months at the University of Maine, conducting research in Dr. Benildo de los Reyes’ molecular genetics lab. Dr. Panes is an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Ateneo de Manila in Quezon City, Philippines where she teaches introductory courses in genetics and molecular & cellular biology.

She is a visiting research scholar through the Fulbright Scholar Program, an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.  Participants are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, and are given the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research all around the world.Vivian Panes

“Dr. Panes is working with an exotic plant that has a lot of potential pharmaceutical and nutritional applications. She is hoping to utilize the molecular paradigm I use in my molecular genetics lab to reconstruct the biochemical pathway that happens during the development of the Moringa oleifera” Dr. de los Reyes explains.

Dr. Panes is currently conducting research on the plant Moringa oleifera, a tropical tree native to northwestern India that was introduced to the Philippines in the early 1900’s.  Her project is focused on RNA sequencing of the early staged Moringa plant in order to find genes that encode for enzymes that lead to lipid biosynthesis and to help identify key metabolic pathways within the plant.

Moringa oleifera is used for a variety of economic purposes around the world and is utilized for it’s high nutritional content.  The leaves are rich in protein, calcium, potassium, Vitamin C as well as all the necessary amino acids that are not synthesized within the human body. The plant itself can grow up to 12 feet tall, contains compound leaves, and elongated fruits called pods.

Dr. Panes chose the University of Maine due to prior research collaboration with Dr. de los Reyes in 2008, when they started their research on Moringa.

During her six-month visit to the United States she plans on attending a variety of seminars, already attending a conference in Boston, Massachusetts and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Hopefully I will be able to introduce what I am learning here at the University of Maine to my students, and even to my colleagues, and that I can continue the research I am conducting back in my home country” explains Dr. Panes.