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Eric Hunter Jones

Profile

  • Time Zone
    Eastern

  • Organization
    University of Maine at Machias

  • Role
    Scientist Mentor: I will mentor teams of students online

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    While in graduate school I studied plant mating systems and phylogenetics. I focused on using what we know about the relationships among species of flowering plants to answer questions about how flowers evolved to interact with their pollinators. More recently I've also begun to research how best to teach, particularly math and science, in ways that are engaging for students. My hope is to help my students to be able to learn and retain information more easily and to be able to apply what they have learned to answer new questions. I'm also interested in how the philosophy of science interacts with societal pressures.

  • Profile Question 1
    What lessons have you learned in your career about how science works?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    I used to think that science was black and white, right and wrong. In fact it turns out that science can be messy and requires creativity. Our ability to describe and explore the natural world is a daring proposition. In some ways scientists are more brave than the average person because we dedicate years of our lives to attempt to answer questions the best we can when in the end we know that our answers are only tentative. Years from now someone may come along with a different idea or a new method and overturn our results. It took me a while to come to grips with that but, hey, that's the nature of studying nature.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is the coolest thing you have discovered or learned about plants?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    I've learned that two of the largest groups of organisms on Earth co-evolved with one another to produce a stunning array of members. Both Angiosperms (flowering plants) and insects evolved together through myriad relationships. Some insects are pollinators for plants, some insects eat plants, some insects protect plants from being eaten. I find it fascinating that these two extremely large groups of organisms, arguably the two largest, are as numerous as they are because they "grew up" together.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My favorite plant has to be the Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva) because these pines can live up to 5,000 years and counting! It's amazing to me to think of being an organism that's been around for that long. It's on my bucket list to get to spend a day sitting with one of these trees, taking in the landscape that's changed so much around them during the last five millennia!

  • Availability
    I am currently available for mentoring, please send me team match invitations

  • In addition to English, I am comfortable communicating with students in the following languages:
    None of the Above

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?
    2

Recent Posts

said

Hey everyone, please accept my apologies for the delayed reply.  Those seem like some pretty clear results.  Congratulations on designing an experiment that gave you such clear results.  So what did happen?  If the only difference was the sugar then we need to think about what sugar in the soil might do to a seed.  Did the seeds in the sugar water even begin to sprout?  Have you taken a look at those seeds to see if there are any roots starting to peek out?  Does the soil or do the seeds look moldy at all?  I ask because sugar is a great, easy to digest food (why we like it so much) and it might have fed some fungi in the soil that attacked the seeds.  If that's not it let's think about how sugar and water interact.  Water will move to where sugar is, as if to dilute it, that's osmosis.  The sugar water might have been concentrated enough to draw water from the developing plant.  You could design experiments to test both ideas.  Any ideas how you might do that?  Thanks for letting me know what's up.  I'll be sure to keep an eye out for your thoughts, I'm interested to know what you think.

said

That's a very comprehensive experimental design.  Are you planning to include a control treatment?  Have you all talked about control treatments in experiments?  How many corn seeds do you anticipate being able to plant in each treatment?  Will you be able to keep all other growing conditions the same (light, temperature, etc.)?  I really look forward to hearing how things go for you, please keep me posted.

said

Hey folks, it's great to hear from you all.  What cool questions.  I have to say that my favorite flowers are the tiniest ones.  No particular species, but Primula species come to mind.  I really like how even small things in nature have incredible amounts of detail in them.  As for performers, Rush is hands down my favorite band, though Metallica comes in a close second.  What an interesting research question.  Have you all learned much about seed development and germination?  For example do you know what the term cotyledon means?  Where do plants get the sugars that they use to grow?  That will go a long way to helping you set up your research.  Please let me know what you find out, I'm anxious to hear back from you all, cheers.

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