|Kadeem J. Gilbert
Pennsylvania State University
Twitter Handle: @GilbertKadeem
Kadeem is fascinated by the ways in which plants interact with the animals and microbes that live in and on their leaf surfaces. In particular, he has done a lot of work examining the communities living inside the digestive fluid of tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes). These carnivorous plants vary in how much they acidify this fluid within their pitchers (which are modified leaves), and these pH conditions shape the community composition of their inhabitants. Kadeem has also found that Nepenthes fluid pH is more important to bacterial community composition than is the external change of climate on an elevational gradient on the island of Mindanao, the Philippines--on the other hand, the elevational gradient was more important to the eukaryotic community composition in those same pitchers.
A photo of Nepenthes mindanaoensis pitchers on Mt. Hamiguitan, Mindanao, Philippines and Kadeem on Mt. Hamiguitan
How Kadeem got interested in the botanical sciences:
Kadeem’s long-standing interest in ecological interactions, was furthered by an Intro Botany course in the freshman year at Cornell. The course opened his eyes to thinking about plants as interesting in their own right, as active organisms with their own lives and "interests" rather than simply just passive objects that get eaten.
Kadeem’s advice for those just starting their botanical journey:
Plants may not talk, but my advice is to "listen to what the plants have to say". When you go out for walks, always observe the plants around you and see what questions nature inspires within you, even if it's just in your own backyard!
Besides science and nature, Kadeem is passionate about music. He spends his free time playing piano, music by classical composers broadly speaking, and also composing his own music. Also, he sings in choral groups (pre-pandemic). He also likes learning new languages, and occasionally he also writes poems.