I’m a scientist who studies plants, nature’s introverts in many ways. They’re ubiquitous and critical to our lives but hardly noticed or thought about. They quietly do the work of oxygenating the atmosphere, taking up carbon dioxide, and producing food, wood, clothing, paper, coffee, tea, beer, wine, and more for us and the biosphere.

In the lab, I’m quiet. Most labs now have the “open lab” format. My desk is in a bay I share with three other people. I can hear everything anyone says in this open room, and it’s distracting. But I’d like to think that being an introvert helps me tune into my subject and that I take time to notice the little things, the fine details that may not seem to matter, but do.

I am also good at listening and at thinking about the articles I read and try to synthesize into new hypotheses and ideas. And I observe and see how things operate in the lab and think deeply about how I might do it differently if I ever get to manage a team or run my own lab one day.