Zoe is a PhD candidate at Cornell University in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology. Zoe received her B.S. in biochemistry from Stanford University, where she completed a thesis under the supervision of Dr. Mary Beth Mudgett. She joined the Bogdanove Lab at Cornell in 2016 and studies Xanthomonas effector biology specifically focusing on the causal agents of black rot of crucifers and banana bacterial wilt. Her blog http://www.thebotanistbaker.com outlines her adventures in baking plant pathology themed treats

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?

I have a baking themed periodic table of elements poster!

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?

I’d either be a teacher or own a bakery

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?

New Zealand to go backpacking

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

To know why something wasn’t working just by looking at it

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

Banana: The fate of the fruit that changed the world by Dan Koeppel is a great book

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

Go hiking or kayaking!

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

Kitchenaid Mixer, chocolate, and sunshine

15 What beverage gives you life?


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


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

A plant scientist 🙂

18 What drives you and keeps you going?

Pushing the boundaries of what we know to help solve agricultural problems

19 What got you excited in science?

My family! My parents are both scientists and encouraged my interests since I was very young

20 What excites you about science now?

Global collaboration on projects and the speed at which new techniques are evolving, allowing us to answer questions we were never even able to ask before!

21 What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

Donuts, although I don’t think I feel guilty about that

22 What is a secret talent of yours?

Making mushroom shaped chocolates, candies, and cakes

23 What is your favorite game?

Recently, I’ve been really into bananagrams

24 What is the last book you read?

The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh.

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

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

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

Beekeeping. But I am hoping to start this when I move to do a postdoc!

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

Don’t worry so much.

28 What is the best way to de-stress?

Baking of course!

29 What is the last thing you watched?

Parks and Rec

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

A tube of arabidopsis seed? A bunch of piping tips for cake decorating? A kayak rudder? Hard choice.

31 What is your favorite animal?

A tie between a cow and a whale shark

32 What is your favorite book?

I love all of Ray Bradbury’s short stories

33 What is your favorite comfort food?

A warm chocolate chip cookie

34 What is your favorite day of the year?

I love celebrating April 1st!

35 What is your favorite plant?

Vanilla Orchid

36 What is your favorite science fact?

Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts are all the same species of plant. Brassica oleracea

37 What is your favorite season?


38 What is your favorite smell?

Fresh baked bread

39 What is your favorite sound?

Rain on a really stormy night

40 What is your favorite thing about yourself?

I don’t know if I can choose one!

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


42 What is your proudest moment?

Giving my thesis talk when I graduated undergrad. I had been nervous about public speaking, but I worked really hard on the talk and it ended up going great!

43 What kind of tree would you be?

A California Redwood

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

Ithaca is so beautiful in the summer! I love that I live just two minutes from a lake that I can go kayaking in.

45 Tell us something we probably don’t know.

German chocolate cake isn’t originally from Germany. It was named after American baker Sam German.

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