#IAmScience Katalin Toth

 By Erica Overfelt | Bond LSC

A chance encounter brought Katalin Toth to Mizzou.

The postdoctoral fellow, first heard about MU when Gary Stacey visited University of Munich. Toth heard of a position opening up in his lab. She has now been in the Stacey Lab for six years.

“I knew his work was important and well known,” Toth said. “You can almost directly apply what you find on soybeans to agriculture.”

Science has led Toth from the mountains of Slovakia where she did her masters to Hungary for her Ph.D. and Germany for research. Missouri ended up being the next step in her journey.

Being a foreign postdoc in the lab gives Toth a unique perspective. She has seen two different research environments — one in Europe and the other here —that highlight cultural  and experimental differences.

“Here you have a facility core and you have to pay for it,” Toth said. “You have to really consider what you are doing and how you design your experiment. It is actually good because you really have to think about how you use your time in your experiment.”

Toth has always been given opportunities in the labs she has worked at, but as a postdoc she now has a chance to express her love for science to others.

“As a postdoc here, I get the opportunity to be involved in tasks not related to the everyday life of a researcher,” Toth said. “From organizing outreach activities to promoting plant science, it is important to me that people understand the importance of science.”

Toth’s love for science sprouts from the exploration of soybean research and how it will affect our world and other cultures. Currently, she is studying soybean association with beneficial soil bacteria that help soybeans to better access nutrients such as nitrogen, vital for a crop’s growth.

“There are different bacteria in the soil and I am looking at how the plant’s immune system is responding to the beneficial bacteria.”

Toth’s travels have also opened up her perspective on different culture’s needs.

“I care about the environment and doing something that is useful like this for agriculture, hopefully will help the environment,” Toth said. “After I saw how local people take care of Amazon while traveling in Peru, for example, I want my research to help improve crops and make an impact on the environment in a different way.”

Toth has done research for 10 years, and doesn’t want to stop anytime soon. From long hours at the lab to even weekends of research, Toth is always eager.

“Everyday there is something more exciting,” Toth said.

As busy as she is, Toth has always found time to enjoy her favorite place: outdoors. However, there is only one slight fall back from her move to Missouri.

“I just do not like the hot summers here,” Toth said.