Sophia Balcomb


  • Time Zone

  • Organization
    Botanical Society of America

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am interested in plant-animal interactions and ecology. I often approach plants through the "eyes", so to speak, of animals. Animals interact with plants in many ways including by eating them (herbivores), pollinating their flowers (insects and birds), and dispersing their seeds (mammals, birds, etc.). For my PhD research I looked at how primates in Africa (monkeys and chimpanzees) affect the forest tree communities in which they live by eating the fruits of trees and then either spitting out or defecating the seeds into new areas. Do they put them in good places for seed germination or bad places? My career has taken a slightly different path than the traditional scientist and I now am an editor for a scientific journal.

  • 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 have always been interested in nature and animals and plants because I grew up in Kenya, East Africa, where I was able to see lots of wildlife. I moved to the United States when I was a teenager and the most interesting subject in high school to me was biology, although I also liked music and languages and other subjects too. When I first went to college I actually wanted to become a marine biologist, but then I changed my mind when I found out how much physics and math I had to have. I decided to major in natural sciences, as I wanted to be able to work outdoors and in nature.

  • 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):
    No matter what career you choose, you need to be able to write well in order to communicate with other people, whether they be your co-workers or the general public, or you may need to write a grant to get money to fund a cool project idea that you have. You should also always be curious and ask questions and don't take anyone's answers for granted - persevere. These qualities will serve you well in science and in any career you choose.

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

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My favorite plants are Proteas. I only recently learned of their existence. They are only found in one place on Earth: South Africa. The flowers look almost like artichokes, but come in all brilliant hues of reds and pinks, and are pollinated by special birds called Sugarbirds (that are similar to our American hummingbirds). The leaves are soft and velvety and grow in whirls, and the petals of the flowers also grow in a similar whirled pattern. They are incredibly beautiful.

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

Recent Posts

We Are UnbeLEAFable Sophia Balcomb

Do you mean quantitative and qualitative ways of measuring how well the seeds are doing?  Do you know the difference between those two things? What do you think would be good to measure and record?

We Are UnbeLEAFable Sophia Balcomb

Sounds like you are off to a good start!

ossstephensfall2017 project 3 Sophia Balcomb

Hi Meghan, that is very nice of you to say that, but really the credit should go to you all!  Is the experiment finished? 

Skills & Endorsements

  • No skills have been endorsed yet.