Matt is a 4th year PhD in NRES. He works at Dr. Jen Fraterrigo’s landscape ecology lab, studying how herbaceous communities are structured in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and how these extremely diverse communities may respond to accelerated climate change, with the aim of improving plant conservation efforts.
What have you been working on this past week?
My workweek has mostly been dedicated to writing and data organization. I am rounding the corner on submitting my first manuscript for the work I have been doing over the last 3 years. In the interest of getting out of here on time, I figured it would probably be a good idea to start in on analyzing data for my second chapter as well and I can’t do that unless I have my data in the right format. Otherwise, I have been getting my gardens ready for fall.
What have you been listening to recently?
I can’t seem to get enough of Ghost’s new album Prequelle. It is just such a wonderfully catchy metal album. Imagine if Mercyful Fate, Queen, and Blue Oyster Cult had a baby and that baby was Satanic… and Swedish. We got to see them in St. Louis and it was easily one of the best live performances I have ever witnessed.
What are your hobbies?
All things botany. I love finding and photographing plants in the wild and I spend a lot of my free time poking around in what little prairie remains in this region. I also garden a lot, both indoor and out. I have amassed an alarming houseplant collection and tending to it is my number one way of unwinding. It also gets me through our long, dreary winters. When I’m not doing that, I am usually researching and producing a botany-themed podcast called In Defense of Plants.
A view of your week:
Just a handful of some of my houseplants. Many of these hate cool nights and rain so come fall they have to be brought indoors.
I successfully grew and flowered Datura innoxia this summer, which is a stunning albeit deadly relative of tomatoes. I have never had to be more cautious with a plant than I am with these. Datura are extremely toxic plants and if I were to brush up hard against a leaf or get some sap in a cut, I would be in for a really bad couple of days. Symptoms include a complete inability to differentiate reality from fantasy (delirium, as contrasted to hallucination); hyperthermia; tachycardia; bizarre, and possibly violent behavior. Fun stuff!