Nikki Forrester


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    University of Pittsburgh

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I study how polyploidy (when an organism possesses more than two complete sets of chromosomes) alters plant interactions with bacteria. Specifically, I focus on the legume-rhizobia mutualism, in which plants provide carbon to the bacteria in exchange for nitrogen. Polyploidy could improve the legume-rhizobia mutualism in two key ways, by increasing the quantity and/or the quality of rhizobial symbionts hosted. To address these hypotheses, I use a variety of experimental techniques in the lab and have also conducted field experiments in Pittsburgh.

  • Profile Question 1
    Do you have advice for students about preparing for a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    Stay curious and find an organism or a question you absolutely love and want to know everything about. Science can be very challenging and frustrating, but feeling excited and curious about your research project is extremely helpful for getting you through the tough times.

  • Profile Question 2
    When and why did you decide to go into a science career?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 2 here (300 words):
    I decided to go into a science career during college. I took a Plant Conservation and Diversity class at a field station in southwest Virginia. Every day I got to hike around the woods and learn about new plant species. This class helped me realize how important plants are to natural ecosystems and how many unique traits they have in order to survive and thrive without being able to move. Ever since then, I've been dedicated to learning more about plants through doing scientific research.

  • Profile Question 3
    What is best about being a scientist?

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    For me, the best thing about being a scientist is the ability to ask and explore questions no one has ever asked before. The world is a fascinating place and there is so much to discover. Being a scientist lets me think about all the ways organisms function on the planet and then figure out whether or not my ideas are correct by conducting experiments. I'm always learning new things, testing new methods, and working to gain a better understanding of the world and everything that lives on it.

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

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