Rachel Bomberger


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    Washington State University

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    Plant pathology; plant problem diagnosis; environmental effects on plant health; pathogen and pest effects on plant health; plant diseases; and plant disorders.

  • Profile Question 1
    Can you describe your attitude toward science when you were in high school?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    I loved science throughout my K-12 education. Science over and over again was the class I could deeply delve into and forget about peer or societal pressures about appearances or behavior and just enjoy what I was learning. I was unabashed about loving science and it earned me the reputation as a smart girl. It challenged me in a way that kept me excited-there was no fear of getting the answer wrong as long as I would learn what the right answer was. I loved observing animals and plants; learning how and why organisms did what they did; and how learning one process in science could lead to understanding a similar process in a different setting.

  • Profile Question 2
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    Initially, I was going to be a medical doctor--because that is what you did if you liked science, according to most people. In college, I volunteered with the research greenhouse as a way of dealing with depression and ended up working under a plant ecologist. Under her I realized that I could just do science without the pretense of medical undertakings. This graduate student encouraged me to pursue plant sciences and with her help I applied for, and was accepted into a master's program focusing on plant pathology. During my master's I met two women who ran a plant diagnostic laboratory where they figured out why plans (everything from vegetable crops, homeowner plants, nursery crops, and everything in between) were 'sick'. When I realized that I could have a career in problems solving, I pushed toward that and have been a plant diagnostician ever since I left graduate school.

  • Profile Question 3
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    Do not get discouraged if you don't have the best grades; persistence and passion matter much more. The best scientists are those who ask questions and keep looking until they have discovered or found out all there is to find--this is not always the person who scores the highest. Don't give up or avoid science because it sounds hard, it is inherently interesting and you'll find yourself much more fascinated by what you are learning than the difficult to grasp concepts. Find a mentor and peers; a mentor will guide you and encourage you. Peers will support you, challenge you, and commiserate with you. And always try to help out the scientist next to you or coming after you-science is a tough career but it is far less tough when we all help each other do the best work we can.

  • Availability
    I am currently available for mentoring, please send me team match invitations

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

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