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Angela Jean McDonnell


  • Organization
    Bucknell University

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I study milkweed vines that are found in the Southern US and throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America. I am interested in understanding how different species are related to each other and developing our understanding of how this lineage has adapted to arid and seasonally dry habitats.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is a typical day like for you?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    One of my favorite things about being a scientist is that every day is a little different. If I'm teaching, my day often starts with preparing to teach by reviewing material and entering grades, then I'll teach, and if I'm not too tired, I might get a little of my own research done. When I'm not teaching, I have a wide variety of things I do. Many days I'll read or skim a few papers, I'll write a little or analyze some data, and then I'll either work in the lab or in the herbarium. During the summer, it can be even more variable because there are conferences to attend and fieldwork to do.

  • 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):
    A part of my project includes taxonomy, or the naming of plants. Most of the time, I'm trying to understand how other people named species or what they thought about species. It's a lot of reading between the lines. The coolest part of taxonomy so far has been discovering and naming new species of milkweed vines. I've really enjoyed finding and describing new species and telling their part of the larger milkweed story. It's all a part of understanding biodiversity!

  • Profile Question 3
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    I knew I wanted to go into a science career sometime during high school. I was fortunate enough to have science teachers that really cared whether or not their students were learning and understood the material they were teaching. I became more interested in plants specifically when I was in college, taking a general botany course. I didn't know what to expect, but the class blew my mind! I was completely entranced by plant diversity and became a little obsessed with understanding how plants were organized into families and what traits made them unique.

  • Availability
    I am NOT available, please temporarily remove me from the available mentor list

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

Recent Posts


Hi Maddie,

That is so exciting! Isn't it amazing what little seeds can do? :) 

Are you taking measurements or making comparisons between your treatments yet? 

Keep me posted!


Hi Matt,

It sounds to me like the bleach knocked out some of the mold spores that were naturally present on the outside of your seeds, and that ultimately may have given that treatment an advantage! If you can, give all of your seeds a strong rinse in water in a colander or something before you start your next trial. This might help wash off some of the mold spores for your next trial. Don't worry too much about them. Remember, mold, like all fungi, grow best in dark, humid environments... so there might not be a ton you can do. It sounds like everything grew anyway!

It sounds like you have a great plan; thanks for sharing all the details! I really enjoy seeing what you're doing. :) 

I am not sure it will make the impact 4x bigger... that is an interesting question! You might be able to test that if you took height measurements of your first trial; you could compare heights between the trials and see. You might also need to grow the corn longer; maybe the second trial would result in 4x less seed set, for some treatments, for example. 

Watering seeds a bit less is probably a good idea, too. 5 mL of water in a little dish sounds like a lot; I would just make sure they are evenly moist but not sitting in standing water. 

Good job! 


Hi Lola,

Sounds good! It sounds like your corn hit a growth spurt while you were away! That's ok. It is probably totally normal. Are you enjoying growing plants? Isn't it amazing what can come out of a seed!?

Sounds like you are making good progress.

Skills & Endorsements

  • Encouraging
    Jason Keeler
  • Challenges Student Thinking
    Jason Keeler