This fall AgBiome chatted with a girl scout club in Cary about women’s contributions in science. Members of the AgBiome team included: Melissa, Kestrel, and Tim. They brought equipment and supplies to teach the science club sterile technique, pipetting, and identification of plant pests.
Melissa talked about her role as a molecular biologist and chemist and how she makes contributions to the science of crop protection. At her station, students learned how to properly pipette and streak bacteria onto synthetic media. They also had the opportunity to get creative and streak bacteria on plates to make a design of their choosing.
At the plant pathology station, Kestrel talked about the steps of identifying a plant infected with a pathogen. Students were able to look at fungi close up, inspect over a dozen plant disease samples, and inoculate a pumpkin with a fungal pathogen. Before moving on to the next activity, the girl scouts learned about the role of plant pathologists and how they protect the food we eat.
At the microscope, Tim showed students what plant parasitic nematodes (microscopic worms) look like magnified 100X. The future scientists viewed red-stained nematode egg masses on tomato roots, learned about the amount of damage nematodes can cause to crops, and why it is so difficult to control these pests.
To finish up the meeting, girl scouts asked AgBiome scientists about their career paths and how they became interested in their specific disciplines. The future is wide open for these inquisitive young women to make huge contributions to science and maybe we even convinced some to consider a career in agriculture.