West Virginia State University (WVSU) graduate student Alejandra Alvarado has been accepted into a doctoral program at the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany, part of a world-leading research organization with more than 30 Nobel Prizes awarded to its scientists. Alvarado will study microbiology after completing her master’s degree at State later this year.

“Alejandra is an intelligent and diligent student,” said Dr. Padma Nimmakayala, in whose lab Alvarado conducts her graduate research. “I am happy and proud to have been her mentor during her time at State.”

Alvarado came to WVSU from her native Mexico in 2012 to pursue a graduate degree in biotechnology. Her research has involved studying plant response, specifically sweet potatoes, to environmental stress factors. She will complete her M.S. in Biotechnology later this summer and will begin at the Max Planck Institute in the fall.

“I knew I wanted to work in microbiology, and I discovered the Max Planck Institute through online research,” she said. Alvarado visited the campus for an interview in early May and received her acceptance shortly thereafter.

Alvarado will work under Dr. Simon Ringgaard in the division of cellular and molecular microbiology, studying the mechanisms of intracellular organization and differentiation of bacteria.

“We are extremely proud of Alejandra,” said Dr. Katherine L. Harper, dean of WVSU’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “Getting accepted into the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is a great accomplishment.” 

Founded in 1991, the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology is one of 82 institutes in the Max Planck Society, a world-leading science and technology research organization with 32 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists.

Alvarado is not the first WVSU graduate to pursue a terminal degree in Europe. Aldo Almeida, who graduated from WVSU’s biotechnology master’s program in 2013, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in plant biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.