Student Profiles

BOTANY - science from students' perspectives

Welcome to the BSA Student Profile pages. You thought high school was fun and exciting... wait until we'll tell you a bit about what it's like to be a university student in the plant sciences, the exciting things we're doing, the places we go and... well, about the trials, tribulations and just plain fun of doing science.

Tatiana Arias
University of Missouri - Columbia
I learned to love biology and the natural world as a small child. I used to visit my father once a year in Bahia Solano, Choco, Colombia. There we spent our vacations exploring the jungle, and I made my decision to become a biologist because I wanted to know more about the biodiversity of my country.

Geraldine (Geri) Boyden
St. John’s University, New York
Most of my early years were spent on the beautiful island of Jamaica, a country surrounded by water and a vast array of some of the world’s most beautiful floras. As a child, I witnessed my grandparents using plants for nutrition as well as medicinal purposes. Some of these uses involved treating common ailments, such as: common colds, flu and other medical issues.

       
Janelle Burke
Cornell University, L. H. Bailey Hortorium

What I really wanted after high school was an internship at the Brookfield zoo. My initial interests were in the biology of cute, cuddly mammals. Instead a friend helped me find a job in the herbarium of the Morton Arboretum, where he was a volunteer.
Laura Burkle
Dartmouth College

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in plants. As a kid, the first thing I noticed about plants is that they sit still. My parents always kept house plants and rattled off long names, like Philodendron, that I never seemed to be able to remember.
       
Keri L. Caudle
Fort Hays State University
A middle school teacher first sparked my interest in science, but I did not fully consider it as a career until beginning college. At first, I jumped from archeology and geology to agriculture and astronomy, trying to find where I would excel.
Jill Duarte
Pennsylvania State University
I have to admit, when I first got interested in biological research in high school, I wasn’t interested in plants. I even took my botany exam as a drop grade. But as learned more about biology, and especially molecular evolution - I made a conscious decision to work with plants for the rest of my life, because there’s so much more complexity in their genomes than the typical animal, fungus, or bacterium.
       
Uromi Goodale 
Yale University
In high school, before going on a field trip with my Botany teacher to the Sinharaja rain forest in Sri Lanka, we watched a movie about the research done there. I was mesmerized as a world I have never been to or seen before unfolded in front of me. Professor Savithri Gunatilleke was climbing a ladder to investigate the pollination biology of the Dipetrocarpaceae family.
Wenchi Jin
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
It is hard to recall when I first became interested in plants. I have always had a strong appreciation of nature, since I was a little boy. When I was only five, I was taken to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, parts of Sichuan in west China.  These areas are considered to be world’s richest temperate ecosystem in biodiversity. Although I cannot remember any specific scenery now, I do remember the astonishment and my fear of the soaring snow-capped mountains at the eastern border of Tibet.
       
Nathan Jud
University of Maryland College Park
My interest in science was greatly influenced by my father and grandfather. They both taught me from an early age the importance of conservation and the value of scientific inquiry through their interest in cave exploration and astronomy. Like so many kids, I was enamored with dinosaurs, fossils, and evolution. Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered “paleontologist.”
Kyra N Krakos
Washington University, St Louis
The first scientific experiment I ever did was not a glowing success in my opinion. The main problem was that I was six years old and had difficulty with the concept of great amounts of time. After listening closely as my father read the geologic history of earth from my Child's First Encyclopedia, I set out with grim determination to make oil.
       
Sarah R. Carrino-Kyker 
Case Western Reserve University
As an undergraduate at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, my major initially was Secondary Education with a concentration in earth and life sciences. My desire to be a science teacher was influenced by the many great teachers I had during junior high and high school. I especially remember the influence of my sixth grade and eighth grade science teachers who guided my interests in science fair projects.
Patricia Lu-Irving
University of Washington
Growing up in the Sydney region of Australia, I got to experience a unique and beautiful flora every time I went bushwalking or camping. I was fascinated by plants from an early age, and loved exploring their diversity even before I knew what the word diversity meant. As a student in high school and later in university, I watched out for opportunities to learn about plants – volunteer work at gardens and parks, student research programs, and other extracurricular activites in addition to formal classes.
       
Cassie Majetic 
University of Pittsburgh
Unlike many botanists, my interest in plants, botany, and science came in a rather roundabout way. I was always fascinated with nature, but in a more active, playful way - some of my earliest memories are of fishing trips with my father and grandfather and camping trips with my mother and our Girl Scout troops over the years.
Tracy Misiewicz 
Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden
I distinctly remember developing a passion for scientific discovery when I was twelve years old. I looked forward to every Wednesday in Mr. Miller’s science class when we would perform a new experiment. At the completion of the course, my future had never been clearer. I was going to be a scientist, separating water into oxygen and hydrogen and testing different antacids in vinegar every day.
       
Julia Nowak, M. Sc.
University of British Columbia
Ever since I can remember, I was fascinated with the natural world.  I loved picking and drying flowers and leaves and observing how nature worked.  When we lived in Ukraine, my parents and I would often go mushroom picking.  These trips got me out to appreciate nature and learn about it, as well as about the mushrooms that we picked.
Olofron Plume
Cornell University
I was fascinated by the identification and use of medicinal plants from an early age.  I also loved writing and literature and ended up graduating with a B.A. in English Literature instead of Biology in 1997, but my passion for plants stayed with me, and, even while I pursued other work, I never stopped thinking of myself as a scientist.
       
Tanya Renner
University of California, Berkeley
My first encounter with a carnivorous plant was at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. I was only about 4 feet tall and stood as high as I could to see the deadliest plant to all known insects: the tropical pitcher Nepenthes.
P. Roxanne Steele (Roxi)
University of Texas - Austin
It is not every day that a mechanical engineer turns botanist, but it is with great enthusiasm that I am pursuing a Ph.D. in Plant Biology at The University of Texas at Austin. Because I love to both learn and teach, I transformed my interest in nature and science from a hobby into a life-long pursuit of gaining knowledge about the natural world and sharing it with others.
       
Cheng-Chiang Wu
Harvard University
The blessed journey to Botany started when I was admitted to the Department of Botany at National Taiwan University (NTU), as certified Talented Students in Biology by the Ministry of Education, Republic of China. Since my study in college, the wonderful biodiversity in the subtropical island of Taiwan has never failed to amaze me.
 

 

       

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