Evan Craine


  • Time Zone

  • Organization

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am primarily interested in plant physiology, ecology, and genomics. I am especially interested in how crop plants respond to stress, from the genetic to landscape level. I am interested in understanding the genes that influence biochemical stress response pathways, and how these pathways manifest at the organismal level. For example, a plant undergoing drought stress will actively alter the expression of genes to respond to this stress. This will signal a cascade of biochemical communication throughout the plant, to coordinate drought response efforts. The plant will quickly close pores on the leaf surface to stop water loss. This directly reduces the photosynthetic rate, or the plants ability to capture energy from the sun and build structures needed for growth, survival, and reproduction. Prolonged drought will influence the growth strategy of the plant. A drought tolerant or drought avoidant strategy will be adopted. Drought tolerant strategies result in the plant investing in structures that conserve water, such as a larger root system and smaller, thicker leaves. Moreover, resources will be partitioned to increase leaf structural components to withstand wilting from loss of water pressure in leaf cells; root growth will be favored over shoot growth to explore and access below ground water reserves. A drought avoidance strategy can be thought of as a full on sprint to the finish. The plant will hedge its bets, investing in growth and reproduction in an attempt to complete the intended life cycle before succumbing to the impact of limited water availability.

    I am also interested in studying populations of plants, to understand how plants within a species or species within a community adapt to local environmental conditions. I have experience in biochemistry, molecular ecology and systematics, ecology, evolution, botany, electron microscopy. I have conducted several independent research projects in plant physiology and ecology.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    As a plant ecologist and physiologist, my favorite plant has to be Impatiens capensis, or the spotted touch-me-not. This plant gets its common name from the way it spreads its seeds-the seed pod explodes when touched and hurls seeds through the air! This relatively small summer annual grows from Rhode Island to Colorado in the USA, and can be found in diverse habitats. Throughout this range, the plant has evolved adaptations to local habitats best suited to maximize fitness given the environmental conditions.

    Plants growing along a pond, in a meadow, or in a forest will look and grow much differently from each other, even though they are all the same species. One mechanism that allows for this is phenotypic plasticity, or the ability of a plant to alter the way it grows and looks to achieve certain functions. For example, a plant growing in a meadow with lots of light will have many small leaves to collect light while reducing water loss, and a deep root system to access water belowground. A plant next to a pond will have a shallow root system, and large thin leaves which makes it easy for water to evaporate from leaf pores.

  • Profile Question 2
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    If you want to pursue a career as a scientist, you most importantly have to be: curious, innovative, and hard working. Read, discuss, and learn as much as you can from peers and mentors. Pay attention to the topics that really grab your attention. Follow them, learn more, and keep asking questions about what interests you and what you still don’t know. Curiosity is an important trait of a scientist, because it fuels your quest to ask questions and acquire the knowledge to answer them. Sometimes to find the answer to your question, you need think or ask questions in a way that hasn’t been done before. You have to remain open to many possible avenues; don’t be afraid to try new things. By trying new things, you continually learn what works and doesn’t work. You gain experience in problem solving and creative, critical thinking. Throughout history, scientists that approach problems from their own unique perspectives have made breakthrough. But, these breakthroughs wouldn’t have occurred without learning from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others. You have to keep working hard to chase what fascinates you. Whenever faced with a roadblock, think of multiple ways to overcome it.

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

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    As a research engineer/scientist assistant working in the field managing switchgrass ecology, physiology, and genomics projects, my day starts before the sun comes up. I get into the office early to catch up on emails and prioritize tasks for the day. Managing four simultaneous projects requires carefully planning and execution. Once day breaks, I will head out to the field. I may be checking on a soil respiration system, collecting flowering data, harvesting various parts of the plants for different analyses, irrigating fields, removing weeds, wasps, or fire ants, or coordinating a work day with technicians from another site. After several hours of working, I will take a break before moving onto the next task. By the time I break for lunch, I have already five to six hours during the coolest part of the day. During the afternoon, I may squeeze an hour or two more of field work in. The afternoons are also a good time for managing data, performing analyses, or performing laboratory data collection. When I get home from work, I may spend the evening reading, writing, or fishing. Usually, I contact potential graduate school advisors and apply to programs that I am interested in.

  • Help represent the outreach efforts of your societies. Please click all those organizations you are a member of:
    (not set)

  • Availability
    I am NOT available, please temporarily remove me from the available mentor list

  • In addition to English, I am comfortable communicating with students in the following languages:

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

Recent Posts

Kimias project Evan Craine


Hi all-my name is Evan Craine, and I am a second year PhD student at Washington State University in the Department of Crop and Soil Science studying plant breeding and genetics. My dissertation focuses on breeding for flavor and nutrition…

Teenagers Evan Craine

Great job guys! Thank you to Stephanie for helping you guys before I was able to start commenting. I am sorry for being late, but I hope that my comments were helpful. You guys did a really good job asking questions, making observations, and…

Teenagers Evan Craine

You are welcome! Sorry I was late to the party. 

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NSF_Logo.jpg This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #2010556 and #1502892. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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