Katie Marchetto fell in love with forests during girl scout camp in Glen Spey, and cemented those feelings during an internship with the New Jersey Forest Service working primarily in High Point State Park and Stokes State Forest. It took some time for her to get a forest ecology project of her own, so she filled the interim with natural history interpretation in the forest of Penn State’s Shavers Creek Environmental Center in addition to research on grape roots, invasive thistles, and viral diseases of plants. After receiving her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University, she finally took a position doing ecological research in forests studying the use of goat browsing to control invasive plants at the University of Minnesota. However, the suburban environment around the St. Paul campus was stifling to both Katie, and to a greater extent her husband Pete who did not have the outlet of nearly daily trips to the forest during the growing season. They decided to pack up and move to a plot of land in Forestburgh, NY with abundant and diverse plant, animal, and fungal life.
While most of Katie’s teaching experience has been at the college level teaching undergraduates, she also has engaged in scientific outreach to public audiences and taught junior high school biology as part of a graduate student school outreach program. She spent some time substitute teaching in Tompkins County, NY.
Katie most enjoys introducing students to amazing and wonderous facts about nature, such as:
- Fungal networks in forests that connect trees for communication and nutrient sharing
- Carnivorous plants, and plants that evolved from carnivorous plants that illicit fertilizer deposits from animals
- Sneaky orchids that trick insects into pollinating them
- Chemical signaling used by plants to recruit the predators of insects that are trying to eat the plants
- “Mind control” parasites