Fionna Samuels

Sustainability Leadership Fellow Cohort: 2021-2022

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Chemistry

Research Summary: I study interactions of small molecules called cryoprotectants with living plant cells. Cryoprotectants protect cells from temperatures below freezing when they are cryopreserved. Cryopreservation is used in a wide variety of fields, from fertility clinics to seed banks. Unfortunately, the mechanism of how cryoprotectants actually protect cells from cold is not well understood. Using vibrational microscopy, I took photos of cryoprotectant location within live plant cells, showing that they pool in specific places. This non-uniformity can have a wide range of consequences, the worst being toxic concentrations of cryoprotectants within certain parts of the cell which result in cell death.