Sarah Shannon-Firestone


  • Time Zone

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    plant-soil feedback (how plants interact with soil bacteria and fungi); alleleopathy (what happens when plants release chemicals into the soil); invasive plants; conservation; restoration

  • 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 spicebush, a native shrub that grows in forested areas. It smells really nice, and pioneers used the leaves to season their food; however, deer absolutely hate this smell, so they don't eat it. Also, the red berries look like little Christmas lights in the fall.

  • Profile Question 2
    What was the first science experiment you ever designed? How did it turn out?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My first science experiment in grade school looked at how well plants grow in different colors of light. I hadn't done enough background research, so I thought they would grow best in green light. I was really confused when the plants in green light did so poorly!

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you share a funny/interesting lab or field story?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    I spent a spring quarter in Costa Rica, where I studied the fungi that infect the roots of Selaginella, a really ancient family of plants. This was challenging because the research station had difficulty getting new supplies. The bulb on the compound microscope burnt out, and we couldn't get a replacement in time for me to finish my project. I ended up wrapping foil around a concave watch class (it is a saucer-shaped petri dish) and polishing it really well. I used this to condense and reflect light from a desk lamp up through the diaphragm of the compound microscope. When I was in high school, I thought that scientists all had the latest equipment and knew how to do everything. I have since learned that some of the best science experiments were put together with imagination and some duct tape.

  • 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

fchslashspring2019 project 7 Sarah Shannon-Firestone

Did you know that wild ginger in the US (not the type of ginger you eat) is pollinated by ants?  Also, pawpaws are pollinated by flies.  Did you find any information on the type of insect that pollinates violets and dandelions?

fchslashspring2019 project 7 Sarah Shannon-Firestone

The part of the flower under the stigma is the style.  The pollen tubes grow through the style and into the ovary.

fchslashspring2019 project 7 Sarah Shannon-Firestone

Good job guys.  Science can sometimes be really frustrating.  As Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed.  I have just found 1,000 ways that do not work."  You've learned a lot, and you'll get better each timeā€¦


Skills & Endorsements

  • Challenges Student Thinking
    Frances Lash
  • Encouraging
    Frances Lash
  • Knowledgeable
    Frances Lash
  • Responsive
    Frances Lash


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NSF_Logo.jpg This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #2010556 and #1502892. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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