Faculty voice:

Christian Danve Castroverde: Striving for Harmony

March 13, 2019

Christian Danve M. Castroverde is a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Sheng-Yang He of the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory and MSU Plant Resilience Institute. Danve Castroverde was recently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The NSERC fellowship is aimed at providing vital financial support to early career researchers in engineering, science and technology programs.

I have always valued great interpersonal relationships. Whether it is in my personal life or in my collaborations at work, I highly prioritize this core philosophy. Many people have helped me throughout my life, and it is important to pay it forward.

Healthy relationships can lead to better communication between people, enhanced organization of one’s affairs, and — at a more fundamental level — personal satisfaction and happiness. Placing value on relationships may have subconsciously influenced my research direction.

Before coming to MSU, I worked as an undergraduate student researcher at the University of the Philippines Diliman. Host-pathogen interactions fascinated me because of this complex interplay between two organisms, and the myriad mysteries waiting to be uncovered therein.

Under the tutelage of Cynthia Hedreyda, I studied virulence mechanisms of the shrimp pathogen Vibrio. For my master's and doctoral programs, I continued probing host-pathogen interactions by working with Jane Robb and Ross Nazar at the University of Guelph in Canada. There, I functionally characterized key tomato genes involved in resistance to the wilt fungi Verticillium.

After finishing my doctorate in 2016, Sheng-Yang He gave me the wonderful opportunity of working in his group. Currently, my main research thrust is to investigate how environmental conditions (like elevated temperature) intercept plant defense responses at the molecular level.

As a postdoc, I am expanding my repertoire of skills and broadening my experience in various plant-pathogen systems. Through MSU, I have been able to endlessly enrich my participation as an active member of the scientific community. With the new support from NSERC, I can continue doing cutting-edge research and implementing projects of great importance.

I also have been equally passionate about teaching and academic service during my graduate and postdoctoral programs. I formally mentored and supervised several students in Guelph and East Lansing. I feel tremendous pride that they have pursued further studies in graduate programs or have ventured into positions in industry.

I have also taught several undergraduate courses in Guelph and recently led a class session in PLB 203 (Biology of Plants) for Diane Ebert-May. Investing in my interactions with junior students is pivotal towards my continued enthusiasm for science and for sharing my knowledge and excitement to the scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and leaders of tomorrow.

My background encompassing the Philippines, Canada and the United States provided me with a holistic worldview and allowed me the privilege to work with a diverse group of people. These environments honed me to become an analytical, independent and, most importantly, collaborative scientist. Working on the bench may at times be insular, but being in science does not have to be.

As a molecular biologist interested in inter-organismal interactions, I have likewise placed great meaning and value in my own interactions with people. Human relationships, like host-pathogen systems, can be complicated and may even prove difficult sometimes. However, as the French saying goes, “C’est la vie!”