Profile

  • Time Zone
    Pacific

  • Organization
    Portland State University

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

  • Research Interests (300 words)
    I am interested in how plants interact with their biotic (living things, such as pollinators) and abiotic (non-living things, such as landscapes) surroundings. Currently, I’m interested in how wind patterns might affect how the pollen and seeds of different plants move from place to place. To measure if plants move, I isolate DNA from different populations and compare genetic similarities.

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

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 1 here (300 words):
    Whether I’m in the lab or the field, a typical day starts with a cup of coffee! If I’m in the lab, a lot of my day to day work – such as collecting and analyzing data from experiments—is on the computer. I’ll also write or research journal articles if I’m finishing up an experiment. On other days, I’ll put on my lab coat and gloves, extract DNA from the plant samples, and get it ready for sequencing! Field days aren’t as frequent, but they’re my favorite part of being a botanist! Typically during field days, we collect leaves from plants, which we can later use to extract their DNA in the lab. Sometimes, I’ll hike 10+ miles a day in beautiful, secluded areas looking for one plant in particular. Field trips usually occur during the spring when all the plants are in bloom and are easier to see, and it’s important to keep my plant identification skills proficient for field season. However, field days don’t always take place outside—some of our experiments are conducted entirely in the greenhouse. Greenhouse experiments always need watering, measuring, repotting, and general care, in addition to conducting the experiment and data collection.

  • 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):
    Everyone has a different path to science, but here are three pieces of advice that worked for me! First, brush up on your reading and writing skills. Track down scientific journal articles that sound interesting to you and read them, even if they feel way over your head. Take your time and look through the articles cited in the introduction, work your way through the methods section step by step, and get familiar with the study species. As you read the articles, try to take mental notes on the scientific writing style. Even though scientific articles are sometimes considered “boring”, they often are telling a story about a particular plant or ecosystem that can be pretty exciting! My second piece of advice is to familiarize yourself with programming. Learning how to program has been one of my best decisions as a scientist because it helps me collect and analyze my data in a whole new, efficient way. Python is a great language to learn, and there are lots of free tutorials and resources online! (I’m always happy to help too!) And finally, my last suggestion for a science career is to ask questions about the world around you, and then see if you can find the answers, whether through the literature or your own experiment! As Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer—an ecologist at the State University of New York—said, “I chose botany because I wanted to learn about why asters and goldenrod looked so beautiful together”, and so there’s no limit to questions you can ask!

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

  • Answer the question you selected for profile question 3 here (300 words):
    My favorite plant is Castilleja miniata, commonly known as giant red paintbrush or meadow paintbrush! This plant is native to my home in Oregon and most of the western United States. Meadow paintbrush is my favorite plant for two reasons: 1) It's a beautiful neon red color (fun fact: the "flowers" of meadow paintbrush are actually modified leaves that pretend to be flowers called bracts!) 2) It's parasitic; meadow paintbrush roots attach to the roots of other plants and steals nutrients. (It's basically a plant vampire!)

  • Capacity: How many teams at a time are you comfortable working with?
    3

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