What got you interested in plants and plant science?
One of my favorite childhood books, and certainly the one I remember most vividly, was My Favorite Tree: Terrific Trees of North America. So, I guess I've always been drawn to learning more about plants. Throughout college, I honed in more specifically on food sustainability, so when I applied to graduate school, I chose institutions known for plant science. And now here I am!
What is your research about?
I study long-distance lipid-mediated stress signaling in Arabidopsis. I'm interested in how the plant systemically coordinates its response to stress as a swift and effective approach to survival.
What is the potential societal impact of your research?
Once we better understand how the plant communicates across tissues and adjusts its development in response to stress, we can use that knowledge to produce more resilient crop plants, for example. While the climate becomes harsher every day, the global population is increasing exponentially. This puts an urgent strain on our already teetering food supply. More stress tolerant crop plants can help sustain a growing population in the face of severe droughts, floods, and overall climate change.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be working in science policy, perhaps in the USDA or for congressional leaders, helping to legislate and execute data-driven, evidence-based policy.
On a Saturday afternoon, you'll likely find me:
Snuggled up on my sofa with my cat, watching Netflix; camped out in a coffee shop, listening to podcasts; or gardening in my yard, weather permitting.
How has your graduate career been impacted by your campus and educational experiences?
There's a real sense of collaboration and collegiality among the students and faculty that supports my day-to-day research with intellectual contributions in seminars and group meetings as well as sharing equipment and reagents. I've also had the privilege of participating in some wonderful outreach events and community building through Graduate Women in Science, the Genetics Graduate Student Organization, and Science Debate at MSU. There's opportunity for a well-rounded graduate school experience here that I really appreciate.