Katie Murphy: Plant Science for a Changing Climate

Katie Murphy can’t remember a time when she didn’t love science. Her favorite book growing up was Chemical Chaos, a comic book packed with outrageous, colorful cartoons about chemistry. In high school, she had an inspiring science teacher named Mr. Massey. “He made me into a chemist,” Katie says, “and I knew then that I wanted to be a scientist.” Her high school bedroom was brimming with houseplants, but as she headed off to college, she intended to pursue a career in chemistry. Her love for plants was still waiting beneath the surface.

For Katie, studying plants has presented the opportunity to find answers to some of humanity’s most pressing questions: How can we feed the world as the population grows? How can we help the environment as the climate changes? Her research today seeks solutions to these pressing issues.

It was Katie’s undergraduate biology professor Dr. Virginia Walbot who set  her on the career path she’s still on today. “Ginny told me that she would teach me everything I needed to know about corn, and I never looked back,” Katie says. She became so excited about her research that her students started to call her the Corn Queen. Both her nickname and her excitement stuck.  “I found that plants were better chemists than I could ever be, and that corn presented so many interesting scientific questions that I would stay busy for a lifetime.” She realized that studying corn meant being a part of something bigger.

Learn more about Katie's research here.

Plants impact every aspect of our lives, from our food and medicine to our clothing and shelter—we need to study plants if we want a future with abundant, sustainable, healthy food for everyone.

Katie Murphy, PhD,
Director, Phenotyping