I became interested in science in middle school. In high school, I narrowed my interest to biology. I started conducting research as an undergraduate in college, and I realized that what we learn about in science books, someone took the time to investigate. I loved setting up experiments and getting results! Conducting research as an undergraduate, changed my career trajectory. I hope that more students get involved in undergraduate research!

What are your research interests and why are you drawn to them?

I became interested in how plants survive in harsh environments when I was working as a laboratory educator at Spelman College. We took biology students to Davison-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve and taught them about populations and communities in the natural environment. While there, I wondered how a plant, Diamorpha smalli, survived on a granite outcrop off of the nutrients from broken down granite. I started to wonder, in fact, how any plant survives in seemingly untenable habitats. I was so interested in this question that I went back to graduate school. Now, I am an ecologist studying plant regeneration in hurricane-prone coastlands.

What is your favorite spot on campus?

Reeves Library because sometimes I just want to read a book in my hands, as opposed to on a screen. I also get to interact with students and ask them my two favorite questions: “What are you reading?” and “What do you recommend?”

What book, film, song, or piece of art has so touched you that you find it enduring?

Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

I can never resist a good _____.


Name someone who inspires you, and tell us why?

My Mom inspires me. She went back to school after having children. It was a very courageous thing to do. Through her, I saw what a difference a college education could make in one’s life. My accomplishments are because of her example.

What is the best advice you have ever received or a quote that stays with you?

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not
always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once,
but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have
because history has shown us that courage can be contagious,
and hope can take on a life of its own.” —Michele Obama

Natasha Woods grew up in Alabama.

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