Rachel completed two years as a GK-12 graduate teaching fellow and is now in her sixth year as a doctoral student in the Plant Science subprogram of the Biology Ph.D. at the City University of New York. She expects to receive her Ph.D. in Summer 2012. After graduating with her B.S. in plant biology and B.A. in visual art from the University of Washington in Seattle, she moved to New York to study cross disciplinary botany at The New York Botanical Garden. Her work involves ethnobotany, genomics, population genetics, and phytochemistry, and revolves around questions about the flavors and health benefits of Asian eggplants (yum!).
In her first year as a GK-12 graduate teaching fellow, 2008, Rachel developed and pilot tested a course called From Toxic to Tasty: the Evolution of Food. In this course, students get to explore crops on a molecular level and learn cutting-edge tools by exploring their own questions about food. She pilot tested this course as a College Now Fellow in 2009 and then accepted a second year GK-12 teaching year fellowship. She is working with 12th grade environmental science classes at Baruch College Campus High School (BCCHS). Rachel and her cooperating teacher at BCCHS are developing a new exploratory module focused on local NYC plants and ecological phenomena called, "One hundred researchable questions sprouting in NYC parks."