Let me begin with some brief comments:

I’ve never been a blogger before, but so far I am enjoying it.  It’s a bit different from social media – where you can expose your friends to your thoughts no matter what they are about.  If you blog, your audience is only the people who choose to actively read what you have to say.  Hopefully y’all are interested in astrobotany and such.  Right now, based off of web analytics, I estimate around 6 people read this blog daily.

I’ve fallen into this field in a unique way at a unique time.  Astrobotany is not a well recognized field.  In fact, it is so new that I created the wikipedia page for astrobotany.  Everything on that page is written by me.  A lot of what you will see on this website is the only place you can find this type of information.  I feel very fortunate to be able to play a part in the proliferation of this field.  I entered UW intending pre-med, but I found a passion for plant biology, and more specifically, science communication.  When I started working in the Gilroy Lab, I had no idea what type of role I would be playing.

When I first started this blog, I was hesitant to tell a story.  I was only confident in telling facts.  I am brand new to science communication.  I am unsure what is professional or unprofessional to talk about.  But I think if you’ve followed this blog for some time, you’ll realize I’ve been putting more of my voice into it.  I’ve settled on striking a good balance between lab life, astrobotany information, and the occasional personal thought of mine.

So this blog is a story (kind of).  A story about astrobotany…

Joe Zess Astrobotany

A good chat with Joe Zess, the botanist.

Joe Zess is a undergraduate molecular biologist and botanist in the Gilroy Lab.  He is also the president of UW Botany Club and a devoted plant scientist.  Let’s have a chat.

Joe makes some coffee.

Alright, Joe.  What got you interested in working in the Gilroy Astrobotany lab?

Joe: I was always interested in plants and gardening in general, so I decided to major in botany.  Through those connections in the botany department, I got involved with the Gilroy Lab.  It’s the best research lab on campus for plant science.  They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse…

Nice.  What is your favorite part about working in the lab?

Joe: The resources, and very helpful people.  Richard and Big Rich are both very willing to help out undergraduates.  Simon, the PI is readily available.  Everyone is so chill.

I agree.  Everyone is super laid back.  What role does your research play in growing plants in space?

Joe: I study the RBOH family of proteins that is involved in reactive oxygen species that are signaling molecules.  RBOHs are a group of genes that are differentially expressed during spaceflight.  So what I do is study them here on earth to find out more about what they do so we can relate that back to spaceflight.  

What do you think the most important thing about growing plants in space is?  This is kind of a broad question.

Joe: It’s the future of human civilization.  I don’t necessarily believe that we will destroy our planet, but I believe the development of astrobotany is needed to expand our reach.  We need plants to live, so to live in space, we need plants in space. 

Any closing thoughts or comments?

Joe: Astrobotany is not really a mainstream field of study… yet.  But I believe within the next couple of generations it will become very important for human advancement. 

I agree.  Thank you, Joe.  Let’s grow plants in space. – Kai