Pennsylvania State University, Department of Biology - Eberly Research
Lasky Lab and Perry Lab
Invasive species are the Moriarty to my Sherlock Holmes.
1) Bristlecone pines, Pinus longaeva, are among the longest living organisms – the oldest known individual is in eastern California, and is 5067 years old, and still going. They live in dry, cold, high UV, low oxygen conditions and weather it all. That is inspirational, my friends. (Check out the OldList of trees. Take that, Greenland shark!)
2) Diatoms, nature’s silica hat boxes. When this unicellular organism divides, the two valves of their shell (one larger than the other, so they fit together) part ways and regrow the other half. The larger half regrows a new smaller half, always maintaining the same size. Meanwhile the smaller half becomes the larger half in the next generation; this lineage gets smaller and smaller over time until it’s too small to maintain cellular function. That is fate.
3) Castilleja spp., also known as Indian paintbrush or prairie-fire. They’re beautiful, hemi-parasitic, and hybridize like it’s going out of style. Your species concept? They laugh at it. Yeah, there are myths told about them. I mean, obviously.
[Fun fact: This species of Castilleja is the state flower of Wyoming!]
I have a soft spot in my heart for Svalbard global seed vault. If I went, do you think they’d let me touch everything?
Do you have any pets?
A 17-year old tortoise shell cat; a grumpy old lady with a heart of gold. Her full honorific is Kikzalcoatl, but you may call her Kiki.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation! I would love to live in Scotland, have dinner in Mexico City, go to parties in Vancouver, hangout with my parents in Texas regularly. Ugh, just being able to buy ripe avocados at all times would be a major bonus to life. Seriously guys, what can we do about this?
Who do you vent to when things are going wrong?
Whoever is within the sound of my voice.
Spanish! Hey, high school-Kathryn, why did you think Latin was a good idea? Spanish would have been… so much more useful.
What are some of your hobbies?
I like to grow things, and then pickle them [left]. I like coming up with extravagant recipes for home-brewed beer. I like hiking around with a field guide and looking everything up.
What sorts of music do you listen to?
I’m all over the place! I don’t really hear/listen to lyrics, so I have no idea what most songs are supposed to be about, but melody is key. This album has been getting heavy rotation recently. This video is mesmerizing: Mai Lan - Technique (Official Music Video).
Well I was always digging in the dirt, making mud-and-plant pies, and planting sprouted potato bits as a child. And then I remember some really exciting projects in a high school Biology class with Ms. Plant (I’m not even kidding), like collecting, pressing, and identifying wildflowers. And I realized that there was just so much biology that hadn’t been figured out yet. THERE IS SO MUCH. And I was like, well, ok, sign me up. And it seemed to have better job prospects than my plan B at the time, cellist.
Not all plants are the same. It matters where something is from. Invasive species are a major problem. The US Geological Survey estimates that the annual environmental, economic, and health-related costs of invasive species in the US exceed those of all other natural disasters combined. And no, it’s not xenophobic to research invasive species or try to prevent invasions.
9 hours of sleep/night and take most weekends off. Sometimes this is easier to do than others.
Hot, caffeinated beverages, motivational but instrumental music (Explosions in the Sky, always a good choice), pajama pants (if appropriate). In a pinch, a handful of hot wasabi peas may also do the trick.
Like: In a broad sense, I study rapid biological change. And humans are changing everything around them. There are a million questions to ask, and the answers are all really important.
Dislike: Analysis paralysis! There are a lot of ways to do something wrong, but there are also a surprising number of ways to do something plausibly right.
Most of ethnobotany fascinates me. I want to know everything that is edible, I want to know every plant that’s ever been used by someone for something. I want to know all the stories and mythologies.
For the 5 year old: You be you, some people will really like you, others, you don’t need to worry about.
For the 15 year old: Take Spanish already. Geez.
I feel like I’m full of ideas. I just need a place, and some money, and some time, and some students to help me figure out the mysteries of the universe.