Shelley Sianta


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    University of California, Santa Cruz

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I study how new species evolve. Specifically, I am interested in how adaptation to new environments promotes the evolution of new species. I use a unique set of plants that are adapted to toxic, naturally-occuring soils in California.

  • Profile Question 1
    What is a typical day like for you?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    There is no typical day for me! I can spend weeks at a time in the greenhouses, planting big experiments (>1000 plants!) and collecting data on all those plants. I can spend my day in the lab, extracting DNA from different plants and sequencing specific genes in order to understand how plant species are related to one another. I can spend my day in the field, hiking around and looking for populations of plants. When I find these populations I measure features of the environment and collect seeds and soils to use in experiments. Or I can spend my days on the computer, crunching numbers and writing up my conclusions.

  • Profile Question 2
    What lessons have you learned in your career about how science works?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    Science is a process of many small failures. I am constantly learning better ways to design experiments, or am asking new questions/hypotheses once one hypothesis proves to be wrong. I think the most successful scientists are the ones that embrace and welcome failure - they use failure as a creative engine instead of taking failures to mean they are bad scientists.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is your favorite plant? Why?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    An extremely difficult question. I'm enamored by small, diminutive annuals that have beautiful flowers. One of the cutest plants I've ever seen in flower in Mimulus douglasii, aka mouse ears. Google it - it's adorable.

  • 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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