Rebecca Marjorie Dalton


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    Duke University

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    Maintaining biodiversity, or the number of species present in a given place, is important to safeguard essential ecosystem functions and for production of goods and services valuable to humans. How species that share a limited number of resources are able to live in the same place at the same time is a fundamental scientific question. Because these species share common resources, their ability to coexist is particularly sensitive to environmental conditions, and any change in their interactions with each other could result in extinction. Specifically, warming temperatures are causing plants to begin blooming earlier in the season for some species, while others are actually blooming later than in the historical past. If all of the species in the community respond differently to the same environmental cue, certain plants might now flower at the same time and thus compete for the same pollinators. My research examines the relationship between timing of life cycle events and the ability of two plant species to coexist.

  • 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):
    When I was in middle school, the sixth and seventh graders were required to design and complete a science fair project. Most of the students, like myself, mumbled and groaned about having to do a project. For my first science fair project, I asked my parents to drink different types of soda and then I took their blood pressure and heart rate. I wanted to know if certain sodas led to changes in physiological responses. After receiving second place at the fair, I was suddenly determined to get first the following year. Since then, I competed in science fair every year and now I am a scientist who gets to design and complete projects everyday.

  • Profile Question 2
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    My favorite plants are corpse flowers (Amorphophallus titanum). Although I certainly wouldn’t want this plant in my house, I find it quite amazing. When it blooms, it emits a very pungent odor (as the name suggests). This odor attracts insect pollinators that either lay their eggs in rotting meat or are attracted to the small; these include beetles and flies. What is fascinating about these plants are that they take 7-10 years before flowering, unlike many of the dandelions or plants you might see outside. This plant is also special because it produces the largest unbranched flower in the world. It is native to rainforests in Indonesia although there are many conservatories in the United States that sometimes have a cultivated corpse flower.

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

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My job as a scientist is really dynamic. In the spring and summers, I wake up every morning and put on my hiking boots and sun hat and set out to the woods or meadows. I spend my days counting and measuring the size plants, watching pollinators visit flowers, or setting up experiments in natural environments. Sometimes during the field day I collect pollen from flowers and bring it back to the lab, where I can stain it and look at it underneath the microscope. When I am not in the field or the lab, I spend my time using the computer to analyze the data that I collect in the field or the lab.

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

  • 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?

Skills & Endorsements

  • No skills have been endorsed yet.