Scientist Spotlight: Cat Adams

CatAdams DSC_5832October 2017 Spotlight: Cat Adams

CLEAR Member? Since Day 1! (March 2015)

What do you do? I study the poisonous death cap mushroom, and how it has become such a successful invasive species.

What was your favorite class ever and why? Experimental Evolutionary Ecology! I learned so much about experimental design for both lab and field research, got to repeat classic lab experiments, and conduct my own evo eco (evolutionary ecology) research in Seattle parks!

Who was your favorite teacher and why? Joshua Tewksbury converted me from a biochem pre-major to an ecologist, and I have never looked back.

Describe one experience growing up which influenced the way you thought about or became interested in science. I read Jurassic Park in 3rd grade and thereafter was always interested in biology, at least according to my mother.

Did you grow up around science and researchers? I didn’t meet scientists until high school, but was very lucky and privileged to attend a high school in my Junior and Senior years which offered an excellent biotechnology class taught by a female scientist. Mary Glodowski was pivotal in putting me where I am today!

How many labs have you worked in? 8. Kerr (bacterial evolution), Tewksbury (plant, fungal, animal ecology), Rowell (fish evolution), Bakker (forest ecology), Pringle (fungal eco evo), (then if rotations count), Glass (fungal communcation), Brem (fungal evolution) and Bruns (fungal ecology).

What did you do between undergrad and grad school? Racked up research experience in Guam and Uruguay, worked minimum wage at a juice bar, managed a research lab, worked at Amazon to save up money.

More importantly though, I learned who I was when I wasn’t parenting my little sister, figured out dating, and had fun rehearsing surprise musicals and planning for Burning Man.

What does your workspace look like right now? A half eaten salad, a bruised banana, a barely touched coffee. Kurt Vonnegut books for when I am mindlessly running the rotovap. Dried death cap mushrooms (in boxes!) I meant to do something with 6 months ago. A sticker from my old labmate’s new lab.

What is something you learned today? From my meditation teacher, “That place where we don’t know anything, that’s the ground.”

What is your favorite science factoid? Some fungi can have over 20,000 sexes!!!

Describe your favorite science discovery. We found a new species of bioluminescent mushroom in the oak cloud forests of Costa Rica.

Why did you join CLEAR? I love communicating about science. My ulterior motive is to spread the love of fungi.

How do you prefer to spend your time outside of the lab? Cuddling my cat, reading sci-fi and fantasy, playing games or watching my favorite game streamers on Twitch, eating food made by my wonderful boyfriend, and traveling.

If you didn’t have to spend all day in a lab, which passion would you pursue or how would you spend your time? My side project,, could easily become a full time job.

What is your lab pet peeve? When people don’t turn off the goshdarn UV in the biosafety cabinet.

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