Lauren Erland

Profile

  • Time Zone
    Pacific

  • Organization
    UBC

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I study how plants perceive (sense) and respond (grow, develop) to their environments and the chemical signals they use in this process. Particularly I study plants that are experiencing climate change in the Arctic and in BC, and have a special interest in root growth and development.

  • Profile Question 1
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    I have always been fascinated by plants but didn't realize I really wanted to have a career in science until I got a summer job at a Government of Canada Agriculture Canada Research Station. I worked in an entomology lab for four summers and the last project I worked on looked at volatile (gaseous) signals that insect pests used to find their preferred plants. This seemed incredibly fascinating to me that something as different as a plant and an insect could have such specific communication and really inspired me to apply for my MSc. Since then I have become more and more interested in how plants interact with and respond to their environments. As I progressed through grad school I realized that not only do I love doing research, but I love sharing the interesting things I've learned with other people which is why I hope to become a University Professor, which will allow me to both do research and teach (and hopefully inspire more young scientists).

  • 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):
    Plants are so incredible in so many ways, one of the things I have found the most fascinating about plants is the fact that when faced with a change in their environment or a hungry animal plants can't get up and run away. Instead they can sense the danger and they respond with a whole chemical arsenal. This can be either quick, like a mimosa plant closing its leaves, or slowly through evolution like toxic plants that have evolved complex chemical pathways to make all kinds of poisons, deterrents (bitter tastes), or mind controlling substances. In some cases in the face of lack of resources plants like the resurrection plant can go dormant for many years until conditions are more favourable.

  • Profile Question 3
    What was the first science experiment you ever designed? How did it turn out?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    The first science experiment I ever designed was for a science fair in Grade 7. I decided to test whether or not mom's are able to recognize their babies by smell alone, because I had read somewhere that this was an evolutionary trait. I found a group of 20 moms, blindfolded them and then walked each of the babies past them, and asked them to pick which number of baby was theirs. Unfortunately I didn't do very well at the science fair because this was more of an observational study and I wasn't able to come up with a suitable positive and negative control, and I hadn't considered the different smells that would result from their individual care products. It was still pretty fun though and the moms did a very good job of picking their babies.

  • Help represent the outreach efforts of your societies. Please click all those organizations you are a member of:
    (not set)

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

Recent Posts

No recent activity.

Skills & Endorsements

  • No skills have been endorsed yet.