Sarah Shannon-Firestone

Profile

  • Time Zone
    Pacific

  • 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?
    2

Skills & Endorsements

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