Tuesday Simmons is a graduate student living in Albany, California. She's working to improve agricultural methods and shares her expertise through volunteer work.
What do you study?
I study the bacteria that live inside the roots of agriculturally important plants (sorghum, corn, rice, etc.) When the plants don't get enough water, the kinds of bacteria living inside their roots change. I'm trying to figure out if we can use these changes to help plants that aren't used to living with water stress.
What does your work do for society?
My work has direct impacts in agriculture by improving technology to help the environment and to provide higher crop yield under stress conditions. By engineering microbial communities to help plants, we can supplement or even replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides that can be damaging to the environment. This could yield developments in agriculture technology more accepted by the general public than genetically modifying plants.
What's the coolest thing you've done as a scientist?
During an undergraduate research experience, I studied freshwater mussel physiology. As part of this, we went canoeing to collect specimens in the rivers of West Virginia!
What is your favorite STEM fact?
Deinococcus radiodurans (a bacterium) can physically put its genome back together after it's blasted apart by radiation!
How have you shared your research? What do you wish others realized about your field?
I love working in outreach! I'm part of a group at Berkeley called CLEAR where we talk to different audiences and host events regarding agricultural research. I also work with Bay Area Scientists in Schools as part of a group of fellow grad students, and I teach lessons to elementary students.
Misconceptions: 1) Bacteria are bad and 2) GMOs are bad
Thanks for working to improve agricultural technologies and agricultural literacy! If you’d like to nominate a STEM friend (or yourself), fill out the AweSTEM people form. You’ll also receive jewelry from Circuit Breaker Labs.