biology professor press conferenceFeb. 25, 2022–Dr. Tilottama Roy, assistant professor of biology at Missouri Western State University, has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant of $863,000 to fund undergraduate student research into the evolution and diversification of a group of mint plants that include numerous species that have been federally listed as endangered.

President Kennedy

Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy announces an $863,000 NSF grant awarded to Dr. Tilo Roy in biology.

“The research supported by this grant is the epitome of Missouri Western’s commitment to providing our undergraduate students with research opportunities and other applied learning experiences,” said Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, Missouri Western’s president. “The National Science Foundation has recognized Dr. Roy’s commitment to both the advancement of science and the education of our students, and I congratulate her.”

The three-year grant for $800,000 will fund a project by Dr. Roy and Dr. Charlotte Lindqvist, associate professor of biology at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, titled “A phylogenomic study of a hyper-diverse flowering plant lineage, subfamily Lamioideae (Lamiaceae).” Part of the NSF’s Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) program, the funds will allow 12 Missouri Western students to actively participate in the research project.

Students and professor

Senior Esther Par and sophomore Connor Root speak at the Feb. 25 grant announcement.

“Our students will travel across the United States to do field work and to visit some of the largest collections of preserved plants in the world,” Dr. Roy said. “They will also get hands-on experience in advanced laboratory techniques at SUNY Buffalo’s state-of-the-art genomics core facility in New York.”

Information gathered from this research project will help us understand the comparative biology of mints, guide new product discovery, as well as warrant conservation measures for endangered species. It will also help us understand mechanisms leading to the diversification of plants and animals in temperate North America, a fundamental challenge in biology,” Dr. Roy said. 

“The mint family of plants (Lamiaceae) is exceptionally important, and its second largest subfamily (Lamioideae) presents an excellent model system for exploring global patterns of plant diversification and radiation, with immense economic, ecological and cultural importance worldwide,” she said. 

The grant is the third-largest NSF research grant in Missouri Western’s history. 

Missouri Western State University is a student-centered learning community preparing individuals for lives of excellence through applied learning. Missouri Western is located in St. Joseph, Mo., and is committed to the educational, economic, cultural and social development of the region it serves. Visit