Lindsey Becker grew up in North Carolina, where she continues to reside. Lindsey is a Master’s student in Dr. Marc Cubeta’s lab at North Carolina State University where she works on a plant growth promoting fungus in a floriculture system. Lindsey is analyzing foliage area, plant tissue nutrient composition, biomass, and flower counts of Calibrachoa (mini-petunias) in relation to the plant growth promoting fungus Mortierella elongaga, for the link between soil/plant microbiomes and the timing/abundance of flowers. She is finishing up her MS thesis with the pleasant task of counting flowers, and preparing for her PhD.
What are your career goals/plans after you’re done your current position?
I would like to work for the USDA ARS as a research scientist specializing in understanding the benefits of plant microbiomes. I’m also very interested in working for biotech companies seeking to exploit fungal endophytes to prevent disease development.
What is your favorite fungus and why?
I love Microstoma floccossum (shaggy scarlet cup). It’s hard to spot during a casual walk in the woods and it is very Dr. Seuss-like with its pink cup and white hairs.
What is your favorite fact about fungi?
That the hyphal tip is capable of puncturing gold foil. That is just nuts.
Any great stories from field work?
I used to core dead ash trees in Michigan, and the sound of the tree being cored would start a call-and-response with any sandhill cranes that were nearby. One time in the NC mountains a couple of adorable baby black bear cubs wandered into our research plot about 30 feet away from us. Fortunately, we never encountered mama bear and we were able to shoo away the cubs.
What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
I love to bike, both to commute and for fun. I am never a serious biker because all of my routes are centered around breweries, coffee shops, and bakeries.
Anything else you’d like to talk about?
Outreach is always a blast- you never know what kind of questions people might have for you about fungi. The last time I volunteered I looked at pictures of someone’s diseased cherry tree and received advice on where to start my own commercial mushroom farm. Kids generally ask the best questions about fungi because they make very few assumptions.