Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
Most of my career as a scientist has been spent working in plant physiology, or the functioning of plants. I am most interested in understanding how plants respond physiologically to changes in the environments, namely when resources become limited like water or sunlight. I am also very interested in how physiology drives seedling establishment and how physiological traits vary from seedlings to adults. One of the coolest things I've discovered, or considered, about plants is about trees. It is amazing to me that so many of the tree species that dominate our forests are generally very tall, stately, massive things but they all started from extremely fragile, small seedlings. A lot of these species have specific requirements for successful seed germination (i.e. frost, cold temperatures, fire, water). The seedling life stage is also the most vulnerable life stage of a tree, and seedlings experience high rates of mortality due to a whole host of abiotic and biotic factors (i.e. trampling, herbivory from animals, too much water/not enough water, wind, soil). The odds seem extremely stacked against these baby trees, but some of them persevere and become the elegant adult trees we love. As adults, it is also amazing to me that they are able to function. Water needs to be drawn from the soil into the roots, and then pulled up from the roots to the top of the tree where it is released through the leaves in exchange for carbon dioxide. Water is pulled through the trunk of the water through tension, and this tension is made greater when you factor in gravity (i.e. pulling water 100 feet up from the ground for adult trees adds a whole lot of tension). This tension is very similar to pressure, and in some cases, the tension a tree experiences during this water movement exceeds the tire pressure in many of our cars! It is incredible to me that these trees can tolerate such high pressures and can continue to function without damage or swelling, etc. The dynamics of tree growth continue to wow me to this day, and are definitely the coolest things I have discovered about plants.