Rachel Foster promoted to professor at DEEP

Rachel Foster has been promoted to professor at Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences (DEEP). We therefore have three questions for Rachel about becoming a professor.

Did you always think you were going to be a professor? 
No. It was something I worked towards and in recent years after a few different accomplishments (research, collaborative efforts, and pedagogics) I felt motivated to apply. 

Professor Rachel Foster. Photo: Magnus Bergström

How many years and hard work did it take to get here?
Many years of education (11 yrs in total)….4 years of University for a Bachelors, 3 years for a Msc of Science, then 4 years for a PhD, then 6 years of postdoc in California and New York before I got my first independent grant from one of the US agencies (NSF). I then had two early career positions in two countries (Germany, Sweden)…so it adds up, but all along the way I learned, and met some of the most influential and generous researchers, made life-long friends and colleagues, which counterbalances all the hard work since it was also so much fun (and still is). 

What do you want to contribute with in the world, now as a professor and all?
During my education and training I had terrific mentors who challenged and inspired me. And so besides continuing to do research and teach courses here and abroad in workshops, I want to re-instate a mentor program for the PhD students of DEEP, and also start a “shining stars” program for high school students in the local area. Maybe it could grow nationally?  I feel that it is both important and critically urgent to provide young people opportunities to explore their curiosity, and I think lab work is a great place to do that. The next generation has a huge role to play in the future of the planet, in terms of decisions, protection, management, etc. my hope is to help facilitate their interests and exploration. So this program for high school is something I hope to set up in the next so many years before I retire.