Associate Professor of Biology at Stanford University, ASPB Membership Committee Chair
To help members get to know you, how did you get into plant science?
It really began as I was trying to choose my major at the University of California, Berkeley. I had become a bit disillusioned by the large number of premed students in the molecular and cellular biology major and did not feel they shared my passion for discovery. I was excited about how basic discovery could ultimately be applied to increase the sustainability of our society and started to think more about majoring in plant biology. When I looked at the courses required, I was excited by the holistic education in plants I would get. Donald Kaplan’s Plant Morphology course got me hooked on development, and Sarah Hake and Robert Fischer’s Plant Development course ultimately led me to join Detlef Weigel’s lab at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
What do you value about your ASPB membership?
I love the big-tent feeling of ASPB. You have members from all walks of careers and disciplines. The young plant scientists also have an important role to play in the governance of the Society and in bringing innovative new ideas. With the recent initiation of the Early Career Plant Scientists Section, I hope we will see even more participation by students and postdocs in ASPB.
Thank you for your service as chair of the Membership Committee. As you begin your leadership, is there anything in particular you would like your committee to focus on?
We need to help our young plant scientists see the value of joining and maintaining their membership in ASPB. This Society really works for them by supporting plant science funding, outreach, and training. The best way for young scientists to make sure ASPB is doing these things well is to actively participate in the Society and act as on-the-ground ambassadors communicating the importance of plant science.
What is your favorite activity at the annual Plant Biology meeting?
If I’m to be 100% honest, it’s presenting my lab’s research. It’s ultimately important for us to understand that at our core, we are a scientific society here to support the success of plant scientists. ASPB meetings are great because of the many opportunities students and postdocs have to present their research, discuss their ideas, make professional connections, and raise the game of their research. This is true for trainees but also for more established scientists.
ASPB members share a common goal of promoting the growth, development, and outreach of plant biology as a pure and applied science. This series features some of the dedicated and innovative members of ASPB who believe that membership in our Society is crucial to the future of plant biology. If you are interested in contributing to this feature, please contact ASPB Membership at firstname.lastname@example.org
This interview was originally published in the March/April 2020 (Volume 47, Number 2) issue of ASPB News.