Meet graduate student Rania El-Tanbouly

Rania El-Tanbouly 2

Rania El-Tanbouly is a PhD student in Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. After an education in landscape gardening, Rania traveled from Egypt to study plant biotechnology at UConn. Here’s what she said in an interview.

Where did you study as an undergraduate?

I graduated at the top of my class in 2006 from the Faculty of Agriculture at Alexandria University in Egypt.

What was your major?

My major was floriculture, ornamental horticulture and landscape gardening in the agricultural science program. I’m fascinated by art and so I chose to focus my studies on the science of beauty in nature.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school?

I wasn’t planning to continue studying after I finished as an undergraduate student. However, when I found out I had the highest GPA in my class upon earning my bachelor’s degree with honors, I decided that I should continue to graduate school. I received a scholarship and a job offer to conduct demonstrations at Alexandria University and finished my master’s degree in landscape architecture in 2012. Then I received another scholarship to travel overseas to earn my PhD. I guess it was my destiny from the beginning. Although I would love to pursue being a landscape designer, I’m on a path to remain in academia for plant science.

Who is your advisor?

My advisor is professor Dr. Yi Li in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture. It’s an honor for me to work with him and learn from his experience.

What is your field of research?

My research involves plant biotechnology, molecular biology and plant breeding. I’m currently working on two major projects under Dr. Li’s supervision, one on citrus transformation and the other involving turfgrass. Both projects are important for studying economic and environmental impacts.

Name one aspect of your work that you like.

The thing I like most about my work is learning and researching to find answers to unknown questions in order to solve environmental problems. It’s an honor to be part of a team that is resolved to serve the environment and secure the future for coming generations.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment so far?

I had my master’s in landscape gardening but after earning it, I decided to change my focus to plant biotechnology. I came to the United States, to UConn, with limited experience in regards to plant biotechnology. Now I’m experienced in plant tissue culture, molecular biology and biotechnology techniques, which is an accomplishment that UConn made possible. This is a great school and the whole experience has been a dream come true.

What do you hope to do once you get your degree?

After earning my degree, I will go back to Egypt and continue my academic career; I have a job as a faculty member waiting for me when I return.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

Having this opportunity to travel abroad to learn and study at UConn has been a great life experience. I’m committed to my work and enjoy learning. I’m a mother to a three-year-old and I spend too much time away from her, but I want to show her how important education is in our lives. I’m sure she’ll be very proud of her family when she grows up.

By Jason M. Sheldon