My introduction to the green roof industry was really quiet simple and easy. I wanted to go to grad school and further study how plants can interact within the human environment in a sustainable way for both. I had been working in the biotech industry in North Carolina where I was growing Arabidopsis and Mentha in a controlled environment and we were running genetic experiments that really meant little to the big wigs. Of course, our group didn’t know this until later, frustrating me to no end. It made me realize that where I wanted to be in my career, I was going to have to get a Masters in Science to gain credibility to make decisions... Which is how I ended up at Michigan State. (10 years later, they still have the strongest green roof research program in the country, and even a few undergrads have found jobs in the industry.)
I was motivated! I loved living in Michigan and MSU was a great place to study horticulture and plant science. I biked to campus, was running daily, and trained for a marathon. My grad student group went skiing in the winter, and camping in the summer. The hort programs were fun, and I was a member of the CSA (Community Supported Ag).
My advisor Dr. Brad Rowe (a.k.a The guy who has a green roof dog house for his 2 brown dogs) gave me direction for my research, but it was up to me to collect data and process it in a timely manner and work independently.
I started some cool experiments where the results are now used in practice by growers and other industry professionals- little did they know the information came from our collection of research. I published three studies that are now referenced as “original” studies… Man, do I feel old!