Joy Custer, MS Student

Fall 2019 & Spring 2020 Graduate Teaching Assistant

Students have commented to me that Joy’s assistance during her office hours had a positive effect on their comprehension of difficult topics, like microbial growth. She is also always ahead of schedule with grading, maintaining the D2L site and returning assignments—it’s been wonderful to know these items are well taken care of.

- Dr. Paul Carini, nominator

**Custer was nominated in both Fall 2019 and renominated in Spring 2020**

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am originally from California, but my family now lives in the Phoenix area. I decided to attend the University of Arizona because it has the best academic programs of the three state schools, plus many research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. 

I chose Dr. Paul Carini as my faculty advisor because I was in his Environmental Microbiology class, and I was interested in the content he was teaching.

What do you research and why?

My research is focused on cultivating and identifying Bradyrhizobium spp. from soil in order to investigate the genomic and physiological differences within the genus across a climatic gradient. 

Since Bradyrhizobium is a globally abundant and ubiquitous soil microbe, this information about the diversity of the genus can provide key insights into microbial distribution patterns and their role in soil fertility and biogeochemistry.

What do you teach and what do you enjoy the most about it?

I was the Teaching Assistant for Environmental Microbiology (ENVS 425). 

Many of the students had not been exposed to much microbiology before this class, so I enjoyed being able to share my knowledge and help them think through problems they had not thought of previously.

Future plans?

After graduation, I hope to shift my focus from research to community engagement. I would like to have a career in environmental advocacy, education, and communication. By effectively communicating scientific research to the general public, we can work towards a more sustainable future together.

Words of advice?

Take advantage of being on a campus dedicated to cutting-edge research. Collaborate with other students and professors if possible, and make the most of research opportunities.