Carleton University’s Maria DeRosa is one of 24 scientists worldwide to receive a 2021 Grants4Ag award for her work using short stretches of DNA called aptamers to make agriculture more sustainable.

After receiving more than 600 proposals from almost 40 countries, the Bayer Crop Science team selected 24 proposals to fund. From protecting plants with beneficial bacteria to detecting disease through drones and artificial intelligence, these scientists have outstanding innovations to help farmers protect crops.

In Carleton’s Laboratory for Aptamer Discovery and Development of Emerging Research (LADDER), DeRosa is developing biosensors and “smart” materials based on aptamers—short synthetic DNA or RNA sequences that specifically bind to a diverse variety of targets from small molecules to whole cells. The goal is to discover new aptamer sequences, understand their binding properties and apply them to help solve problems in a wide range of fields, including health, environment and agriculture.