Chris Caro


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    University of california, los angeles

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    Microbiology, algal biology, biochemistry, biotic and abiotic factors affecting macrophytes or land plant growth and health.

  • 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 was actually a dental student first, however, decided to leave because it was the dream of my dentist parents to take over the family practice. I had undergraduate research experiences with UC Irvine ecologist Dr. Peter Bowler and lasers scientist Dr. Petra Wilder-Smith which exposed to me to the meaningful work of understanding complex biological mechanisms. I enjoyed the freedom and creativity that research had. However, I understand that the lack of advocates for research and scientific outreach made it more difficult for me to stand up for my interests in the face of strong familial pressures. I'm glad to have found a highly supportive research mentor when I worked as a research technician in the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases for two years after leaving dental school. It was here where I gained experience in teaching spectral imaging workflows to high school and undergraduate volunteers; I learned how to communicate scientific principles and instruction to beginners which gave me confidence to pursue graduate school training.

  • 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):
    It's fascinating that plants form mutualistic relationships with microbes! I learned that rhizobia bacteria form mutualistic niches with the roots of legume crops, where nutrient exchange benefits both partners. I think it's incredible how this knowledge was used and incorporated to produce microbe-rich soil to increase crop biomass worldwide. I think this is one powerful example where findings in basic plant and ecological science can be converted to useful applications that can benefit society. And I aim to discover a similar finding that has broad implications to reduce cultivation costs in both industry and small farms.

  • Profile Question 3
    Can you describe your attitude toward science when you were in high school?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My school didn't have the resources to run cool biological or anatomical experiments, however, I relied on my textbooks and Youtube to get a better understanding of wild-life (e.g. usually aquatic animals!). I did have a fantastic chemistry teacher who got me excited in learning about the interface between chemistry and biology, which in part led to my decision to apply to biochemistry PhD programs. I actually didn't know I was going to pursue a science career when I was in high school; my immigrant parents wanted me and my sister to pursue traditional career paths that were well-paid and well-respected (e.g. clinicians). So it's fantastic that Planting Science has a platform for K-12 students to interact with real-life scientists. This is something I wished I had growing up; I think this platform would have supported me in giving me the confidence to pursue my true interests, rather than giving in to familial career-directed pressures.

  • 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?

Skills & Endorsements

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