Clara Williams, PhD


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    UC Berkeley

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    My research interests involve creating a more sustainable future through a better understanding of plant-pathogen interactions. For my PhD research, I studied a receptor involved in regulating plant defense and growth. I enjoyed learning how plants coordinate their resources to help them achieve optimal fitness.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    My favorite plant is the Ophrys apifera (bee orchid). It is so fascinating that orchids evolved the ability to mimic insects in their appearance. It is interesting to me that the most advantageous traits involved co-evolution with insects that gave rise to something I find aesthetically beautiful.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is tough about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    I think one of the hardest parts about being a scientist is having to deal with "failure" on a daily basis. Conducting experiments is humbling because you put so much of your time, effort, and energy into an experiment and you may still have negative results. However, I like how learned to cope with the negative results and work through it. I learned to continually believe in myself and to be okay changing directions when it looked like my hypothesis was wrong.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is the coolest thing you have discovered or learned about plants?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    The coolest thing that I learned about plants is that they are the foundational organisms that allow all other life to exist. I find it so beautiful that they are able to take light from the sun, water and CO2 and convert that into glucose. They generate essential amino acids we need to survive. They also convert CO2 into oxygen. Plants are altogether amazing at helping maintain an earth that allows for people to thrive.

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

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