Dr. Carol Loopstra

Associate Professor, Texas A&M University

B.S. - Forest Management, M.S. - Forest Science, Ph.D. - Forestry and Genetics


What attracted you to your chosen field?

I was attracted to Forestry after spending two summers with the Youth Conservation Corps in Alaska. My family had always spent summers camping in the forests of Alaska. I became interested in Forest Genetics while an undergraduate at Oregon State University. I became interested in biotechnology while working for the Pacific Southwest Forest Experiment Station in Berkeley, CA.

What do you like best about the field?

As far as being in academia, I really enjoy working with graduate students. In the area of forest biotechnology, it is exciting to see how much progress the community has made towards understanding the molecular basis of tree growth, adaptation, variation, etc.

What are some personal challenges you have faced in your field?

Obtaining grant funding to carry on research is probably my greatest challenge. It is also difficult to find enough hours in the day to stay current in my own area of research let alone other areas while teaching, running a lab, and raising a family.

What does the future hold for your chosen field?

Within my lifetime, I expect the genomes of most major groups of tree species will be sequenced and we will have an understanding of what most of the genes do. We will have a greater understanding of how trees grow, what makes them adapt to their environment, etc.

What things can students do to prepare for a career in this field?

I would recommend that students wanting to get into any area or genetics or biotechnology take biology, chemistry, statistics, and writing courses while in high school. You cant survive in an area where publications and grant proposals are part of life if you cant write well. Be prepared to move to where the jobs are.