New undergraduate advisor joins biochemistry

Photo of Amy Betzelberger.
Amy Betzelberger.

The Department of Biochemistry has welcomed Amy Betzelberger as its new undergraduate coordinator and advisor.

Betzelberger hails from Illinois and earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Illinois State University and Ph.D. in plant biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. A postdoc took her to the University of Cape Town in South Africa before returning to the States as the science liaison for Agrible, Inc., an agricultural tech startup, where she worked until joining Biochemistry.

“There have been many common threads throughout all of my work, such as being curiosity-driven, helping people at different scales, and mentoring and advising,” she says. “I plan to bring all of those to this position. I am looking forward to working with students both on finishing their degrees successfully and in a timely manner, as well as exploring the many careers available to those with a degree in biochemistry.”

Betzelberger’s Ph.D. research focused on the effects of pollution and climate change on crop plants, using a unique large-scale study. In Cape Town, she studied the effects of some of those same abiotic stress factors on pastoral native plants in South Africa. Changes in these plants hurt the local economy by making it difficult to graze cattle and goats, and by reducing ecotourism.

At Agrible, she worked to communicate the startup’s scientific advantages to software developers, design and marketing teams, growers, agribusiness customers, and even Master Gardeners. She jokes that she’s a plant biologist without any office plants yet and that she’ll kindly accept office warming gifts in the form of extra sprouts, shoots, and cuttings.

Throughout her career, Betzelberger has worked with many individuals in different career paths and hopes to bring those opportunities to biochemistry undergraduates. Her own career has taken an interesting route and now she brings the perspective of a STEM grad in the real world back to academia.

“There are many careers that students don’t learn about until after graduation and I want to try to ameliorate that,” she explains. “Some students know from the start what they want to do after graduation, and I absolutely look forward to helping them reach their goal, but many more students aren’t so sure and I can help them explore all that is out there.”