Stefanie Vink


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    University of Groningen

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    My research focusses on the interactions between plants and soil organisms – I examine how plants affect soil communities and vice versa, how soil communities affect plants and plant communities. Plants can actually have quite close relationships with microorganisms (especially fungi) and some plant species are very dependent on whether specific soil organisms are present and grow very poorly if they’re not. The soil is a lot more complex than you imagine, with a lots of positive and negative effects on plants at the same time. This is a relatively new branch of plant science, so there is still a lot to be discovered.

  • 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 actually a group: prairie plants. What I like about them most is the fact that they root so deeply. Some plants grow roots that go down to 15 feet deep, so the majority of the biomass on a prairie is in fact below-ground! This deep rooting allows them to access water during the hot summer months. It also means that rainwater is able to get into the soil more easily (because of the pores that the roots make). Not only are they really well adapted, they’re also really beautiful and support a wide range of animals and insects.

  • 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):
    Hmmm, I’m not really sure whether this was the first, but it was certainly an early one. During my undergrad degree I examined the effect of a grass sward (so something like a high lawn) on the germination and growth of three plant species that commonly occur in nature areas. One of the biggest problems when you’re trying to restore nature areas after a long time of disturbance (such as agriculture) is that the ‘desired’ species don’t return, and that was the case for these three species. I wanted to see if the presence of undesirable grasses might be a reason for the lack of establishment. The outcome of the experiment was that the presence of grasses actually helped these plants to germinate, probably because it was wetter. But once they germinated the grasses stopped the seedlings from growing, maybe because they didn’t get enough light or maybe because the grasses produced allelochemicals, which are compounds that some plants make that hinder other plants. I think the experiment actually turned out pretty well!

  • Profile Question 3
    What is a typical day like for you?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    At the moment I spend a lot of time behind the computer doing data analysis, writing and reading. I also go to seminars, one of the things I enjoy most because I get to hear about (other) interesting research. When I did more hands-on work I spend a lot of time in the lab, but also outside collecting samples.

  • 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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