Morgan Carter in a lab, standing in front of shelves with bottles of reagents. Photo provided by Morgan Carter
Morgan Carter in a lab, standing in front of shelves with bottles of reagents. Photo provided by Morgan Carter

Morgan Carter just defended her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University. She studies how microbes like fungi and bacteria communicate with and manipulate their hosts through the exchange and perception of molecules. The major theme of her research is applying knowledge from model systems to discover new things in plants and microbes that are more difficult to study. She is interested in how microbes interact with each other within plants and how that affects plant disease. Outside of the lab, she can be found on Twitter (@plantpathsecret) or advocating for plant health issues by engaging in science policy.

1 Are you an early bird or night owl?

Night owl

2 Are you pro- or anti-pun?


3 Do you have any pets?


4 Do you have any science-themed home decor?


5 Do you prefer cooking or baking?


6 Do you prefer sweet or savory?


7 Do you speak any other languages?


8 If you could switch professions, what would you do?

Wedding planner

9 If you could switch science fields, what field would you want to work in?


10 If you got a plane ticket right now, where would it go?

Any tropical beach!

11 If you had one superpower, what would it be?


12 Is there anything you strongly recommend we watch and/or read and/or listen to?

I have watched every season of Project Runway since the beginning and I still love it!
I listen to way too many podcasts to get me through lab work, but my favorite podcasts include The Adventure Zone and The NPR Politics Podcast.

13 It’s your day off. What do you want to do?

Work in the yard, play video games, go for a hike, go out for a fancy dinner, and end with a movie!

14 What are three things you can’t live without?

My computer/phone, my husband, and headphones

15 What beverage gives you life?

I love beverages!! Coffee, tea, cocktails, sparkling water, wine… My day is just an endless assortment of beverages.

16 What book did you read in school that positively shaped you?

So many fantasy and YA novels with female protagonists

17 What did you want to be when you grew up?

A scientist, though it took me a while to figure out which one and what that meant

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Positively impacting the world – leaving my mark and helping people with my work

19 What got you excited in science?

Constantly learning new things

20 What excites you about science now?

Being the first one to discover something and contributing to human knowledge

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Trashy TV like Love Island

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

I can move my ears back and forth

23 What is your favorite game?

Board game is Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Video game is Mario Sunshine

24 What is the last book you read?

The Book of Gin

25 What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve received?

You never feel qualified for what you are, so always push yourself to apply/do when you think you shouldn’t

26 What is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to do?

Learn a second language well enough to converse

27 What is the best advice for your 18 year old self?

You can’t speed things up so just try to enjoy the now

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

A hike with my dog and ice cream afterwards

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Brooklyn Nine Nine

30 What is the weirdest thing you’ve had in your bag?

Reagents from the lab that fell in there and I didn’t realize it

31 What is your favorite animal?


32 What is your favorite book?

Pride and Prejudice

33 What is your favorite comfort food?


34 What is your favorite day of the year?

I really enjoy Thanksgiving as I’ve lived farther away from my family and it’s one of the few times I visit

35 What is your favorite plant?


36 What is your favorite science fact?

Bacteria can live inside of so many other organisms, even insects and fungi!

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?


39 What is your favorite sound?


40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

How much I push myself (also a least favorite thing)

41 What is your favorite word (in any language)?


42 What is your proudest moment?

When I defended my PhD!!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A gingko because I’m unique (just wanted to make a plant joke)

44 What’s the best thing about where you live?

The summer weather

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

Plants get sick too! And instead of curing plat disease, we are usually just trying to prevent it.

46 Who would you like to see 46 Questions interview next?