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Mentor Awards

Associate Professor of Biology Vijaykumar Veerappan

Associate Professor of Biology Vijaykumar Veerappan

Dr. Vijaykumar Veerappan is a molecular geneticist. His research focuses on the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying nitrogen fixation in the model legume plant “Medicago truncatula.” Nitrogen fixation refers to a plant’s ability to interact with soil bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by the plant. He has received four CSU-AAUP research grants and three grants from the Minority Retention Fund to support his research. His research has been published in New Phytologist (2020), Plant Cell (2018), and Plant Physiology (2017). In addition, a book chapter and two of his manuscripts are being prepared for publication.

Among the 11 undergraduate research students whom Dr. Veerappan has mentored are Megan Piechowicz and Catrina Sullivan. Piechowicz writes: “Dr. Veerappan’s tireless efforts to ensure that we are provided with all the resources needed to succeed within research projects is simply outstanding. He is kind, humble and understanding. Dr. Veerappan is able to empathize and see exactly what students need, depending on the situation. His ability to adapt to his surroundings and situations is one of the other traits that makes him such a successful mentor. He is able to identify when a small break is needed, and what needs to be said, even if something does not go exactly as planned . . . He is able to effectively encourage and motivate to facilitate success . . . He promotes abilities to work independently once skills have been acquired, allowing for autonomy and a sense of accomplishment. Dr. Veerappan is (my) main motivation and inspiration to succeed throughout my times at Eastern.”

Sullivan writes: “I have worked with Dr. Veerappan before undertaking a thesis and he was extremely committed to the education of his undergraduate research students. Once he agreed to be my mentor, he committed multiple hours and meetings in order to facilitate this project . . . Since the in-lab portion of my thesis has been completed, Dr. Veerappan has been equally committed to helping me write and edit my thesis, create posters for research conferences, and create presentations for oral talks. Dr. Veerappan has been so supportive in multiple aspects of my education, including advice on which classes to take to maximize my undergraduate experience; resume and CV advice and editing; advice for after graduation and careers; and well as emotional support.”