Judith, where are you from?
How did you get interested in science/math/computer science?
I found it always easy, as (most of it) was logical and it was fascinating at once. I felt a strong desire to work with plants when I was an Erasmus student at Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg and did an internship where I was working with plants. Standing in their rooftop greenhouse with a beautiful view over the city and having my hands in the dried Arabidopsis plants to harvest their seeds have me such a feeling of pleasure that I wanted to continue. I appreciated that we can study plants form seed to grown-up organism and see the whole picture.
What is your current research area? What is some result, either by yourself or others, that you think is really cool?
My current research area is tree-fungi interaction in the forest soil. We study how fungi communicate with tree roots and colonize them, which mechanisms are provided by the fungus and which by the tree to establish the symbiotic relationship. I think it's really cool to see that trees are connected via their root system in the forest and that they can pass signals and nutrients among each other via the Wood Wide Web.
What would you like to do in the future? Is there any unsolved problem or topic that you would really like to take on?
We still understand so little on how trees select their fungal partners. Not knowing that makes it also more difficult to use fungal inoculation in nurseries to help trees establish. Finding this out would be really cool. Another things that is super interesting is understanding what stimulates fungi to develop fruiting bodies. The exact signals are largely unknown. It could help us grow a wider variety of fungi for food production.
For fun: was there anything you were scared of as a little kid?
I was and am still scared of spiders, that was already the case when I was a small kid. One night as a teenager, coming home from a friend there was a huge spider (according to my perception) in front of our door. So I called my parents from outside the house via my (very ancient) mobile phone because I had been there for 15min standing around not daring to go in. So my mum came and the spider went to the heaven of eight-legged beings
Did you have any favorite animal?
What was your favorite amusement park ride?