Meet scientist Greg Wahlert, featured in our recent podcast:
Where do you work?
Postdoctoral researcher, Planetary Biodiversity Inventory of Solanum: A Worldwide Treatment; University of Utah, Department of Biology, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
What do you study?
I study the diversity, taxonomy, and evolutionary relationships of plants, especially Solanum (tomatoes), Rinorea (tree violets), and Arctostaphylos (manzanitas).
What are three title you would give yourself?
Botanist, conservationist, teacher.
What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy getting out into natural areas to hike, camp, and explore, which provides the best opportunity to be among the wild plants and animals living freely in their environment. So much of practicing biology involves computers, laboratories, and looking at museum specimens, but it is interacting directly with nature that rejuvenates me and reminds me why I wanted to become a botanist in the first place. I also like to explore the lesser traveled areas, here at home or abroad, in search of wilderness, solitude, or authentic experiences with other cultures and foreign landscapes.
What do you like most about science?
I like most discovering new things about the plant world that were previously unknown. Doing taxonomy and describing new species is personally rewarding, as those efforts contribute to the greater understanding of Earth's biodiversity and may help with conservation efforts. I also take pleasure in bringing students out into the field and seeing their interest and curiosity in the natural world around them.