Amara Dunn


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    New York State Integrated Pest Management, Cornell University

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    My past research focused on understanding the microorganisms (especially fungi and fungal-like organisms) that cause disease on plants (especially vegetables), and how to protect plants from these pathogens. In my current position, I am focusing on using other organisms to control plant pathogens and other pests of plants, animals, and people (biological control).

  • 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):
    I always knew that I liked biology, but I wasn't sure what to do with that interest. While I was in college, I worked for two summers in a plant pathology lab that studied diseases of corn and soybean plants. The people who worked in the lab were helping farmers by answering one question at a time about the microorganisms that caused the diseases, and how to prevent disease. After I finished college, I spent a year volunteering with an organization that promoted urban gardening in Pittsburgh. I saw first-hand how much work goes into growing food, and how many diseases and other pests can make this challenging. There were so many more questions to be asked and answered. Reflecting on both experiences, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the diseases that can make growing food a challenge, and to "translate" the answers to scientists' questions into advice that will help people.

  • 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):
    Explore. Take a class you aren't sure you will like. Learn about a field of science you have never heard of before. Spend a summer volunteering or working for a scientist (or in a different job that will help you stretch a little outside of your comfort zone). You will learn more about your own interests, and the things you learn will come in useful later (even if they seem completely unrelated to your interests right now).

  • Profile Question 3
    What was the first science experiment you ever designed? How did it turn out?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I wanted to know whether you could use water left over from taking a bath or washing dishes for plants in the garden. Would it affect how well the plants grew? So I saved bath water and dish water from my house, and watered plants in pots with either bath water, dish water, or water straight from the tap. The type of water didn't seem to affect how tall the plants grew, but I also didn't check the plants as regularly as I should have, so it was difficult to draw any conclusions from my experiment. Taking good notes is very important in science!

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

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

Skills & Endorsements

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