‘Planted’ Podcast

“Planted: Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers” introduces students to plant professionals.

Content Detail

For many students, the future can be really exciting and a bit scary. Students are often asked at an early stage of life to decide what they want to do with the rest of it, and making decisions about what career to pursue can be daunting and overwhelming. “Planted: Finding Your Roots in STEM Careers,” a podcast from The Morton Arboretum, will introduce students to some plant professionals with amazing careers.

Plant professionals do everything from educating others about the natural world to running large companies to traveling the world to save threatened species. Explore these opportunities by listening to these episodes.


Online or on your mobile device. The podcast is available through Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. All of Season 1 and Season 2 are now available online.


Interested in a career similar to any of our guests? Check out the bonus content below, and discover the career titles you could have, and the organizations you could work for: (link to STEM Career Chart).


Please tell us what you think. After you have listened to one (or several) episodes, we welcome your feedback.

Season 1 Episodes

Focusing on the journey into a STEM career. Released Fall 2018.

  • Guest: Andrew Hipp, Senior Scientist at The Morton Arboretum

    In this episode of “Planted,” we talk about how sometimes our first career aspirations are wildly different from the paths we ultimately choose to pursue. Andrew Hipp’s surprising and twisting path into the scientific field of plant systematics is just that, interesting at every turn. Listen to Andrew discuss his early aspirations, from astronaut to creative writer, ultimately leading to his current work as a scientist. Andrew describes how he harnesses his skills as a writer to paint a picture that weaves the genetic data of oak species from around the world to create a tree of life for oak trees that spans thousands of years. Listen now!

  • Guest: Frank Balestri, Plant Health Care Technician and Research Assistant at The Morton Arboretum (at time of recording) and Horticulture Instructor at College of Dupage (current)

    Join us on this episode of “Planted” to learn how early experiences in the natural world can ignite a passion for working with plants later in life. Inspired by his experiences with collecting and raising butterflies as a youth, Frank Balesteri shares how some of his early experiences, inspired him to consider a path into horticulture. Listen now!

  • Guest: Ashley Tuffin, Research Assistant at The Morton Arboretum

    Internships can take you all over the world and provide valuable insight into the career of your dreams. In this episode, Ashley Tuffin describes how internships guided by your interest can shape decisions and directions within your STEM/plant career trajectory. Listen now!

  • Guest: Aurélie Jacquet, Postdoctoral Researcher/Scientist at the Janelia Research Center at Howard Hughes Medical Center.

    Interests guide your path, but what if you have more than one passion? In this episode of “Planted,” Aurélie Jacquet, an ethnopharmacologist who studies the uses of medicinal plant extracts to treat Parkinson’s disease, talks about how she incorporates her passion for photography within her research. She will share how she uses microscopy to capture images of healthy or sick nerve cells. Listen now!

  • Guests: Dr. Murphy Westwood, Director of Global Tree Conservation (at time of recording) at The Morton Arboretum, and Trinity Pierce, Natural Areas Restoration Program Coordinator at The Morton Arboretum

    Sometimes, does it really come down to trusting your gut? Setting a course within your STEM/plant career can be difficult when you are presented with multiple opportunities, internships, or programs to choose between. In this episode of “Planted,” Dr. Murphy Westwood and Trinity Pierce share their insight on how they chose the opportunities in their path into STEM, and the skills they built along the way. Listen now!

  • Guest: Dr. Chelsie Romulo, Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Colorado

    Mentors, colleagues, and advisors do more than give insight on the journey, they can help shape the path. Follow us on this episode of “Planted” as Dr. Chelsea Romulo winds us through her current research into the far corners of the Amazon and discusses mentors and advisors that helped her carve her journey to these remote pockets of the world. Listen now!

  • Guests: Tricia Bethke, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator for Illinois at The Morton Arboretum, and Dr. Jennifer Chandler, Assistant Professor at The University of Pennsylvania

    So, you’ve done all the work and gained all the necessary skills, but how do you know you’ve arrived at your dream job in STEM and plant science? In this episode of “Planted,” Tricia Bethke and Dr. Jenn Chandler share tips and advice for reaching the sweet spot in their careers and taking risks to end up exactly with the career they wanted. Listen now!

  • Guest: Audrey Denvir, Former Tree Conservation Project Coordinator at The Morton Arboretum

    What opportunity is next on the horizon? Listen to this episode of “Planted” as Audrey Denvir describes her decision-making process to take the next step in her career. Although her career has taken many forms, from wanting to be a pop star to working in Mexico and Latin America with an emphasis on sustainable forestry, Audrey shares her unique perspective on what’s next. Listen now!

  • Guests: Jessica Turner-Skoff, Tree-ologist (Science Communication Specialist), and Meghan Wiesbrock, Manager of Curriculum and Instruction.

    Before you start the winding path into plant-related careers, get to know the hosts in this bonus episode. Unravel their early interest and passion for STEM, and learn how a plant profession could be a perfect job for you.  Listen now!

Season 2 Episodes

Focusing on highlighted traits of individuals in various stages of their STEM careers. 

  • Guest: Dr. Silvia Alvarez-Clare, Tree Conservation Ecologist at The Morton Arboretum

    In this episode of “Planted,” Dr. Silvia Alvarez-Clare discusses how she collaborates with individuals and institutions all over the world to work to save the brandegee oak (Quercus brandegeei) from extinction. Listen now!

  • Guest: Dr. Chris Martine, David Burpee Professor of Plant Genetics and Research at Bucknell University

    Dr. Chris Martine discusses how he incorporates innovation into his career. From discovering and naming plants to communicating about plants in creative ways, Chris finds ways to push the boundaries of what we know and how we think about plants. Listen now!

  • Guest: Marvin Lo, Research Assistant at The Morton Arboretum

    Marvin Lo discusses how the early stages of his career have required versatility. As a research assistant, Marvin demonstrates versatility as he works with lots of different people, and spends time in the field, lab, and office. Listen now!

  • Guests: Nicole Cavender, Former Vice President of Science and Conservation at The Morton Arboretum, and Sue Wagner, Former Vice President of Education and Information at The Morton Arboretum

    Nicole Cavender and Sue Wagner describe how their careers in STEM require long-term planning and vision. Learn how each of these leaders assesses opportunities and situations, and uses vision to develop this tree-focused museum. Listen now!

  • Guest: Matt Candeias, PhD candidate at the University of Illinois

    Matt Candeias describes his career and the importance of communication. Through his own research, studies, and the creation of the extremely successful podcast “In Defense of Plants,” Matt uses communication to address complex topics in an accessible way. Listen now!

  • Guest: Kevin McIntyre, Climber Arborist at The Morton Arboretum

    Kevin McIntyre dives into the importance of risk assessment in a STEM career. From evaluating the safety of the trees he is about to climb to thoughtfully selecting the next step in his career, Kevin assesses situations every day. Listen now!

  • Guest: Anna Ball, President and CEO of Ball Horticultural Company

    Anna Ball discusses how leadership, business, and STEM can combine to make an exciting and vibrant career. Anna leads diverse teams to ensure that Ball Horticultural Company makes the world a more beautiful place by developing and selling disease and fungal-resistant plants. Listen now!

  • Guest: Julie Travaglini, Education Program Director at the Allegheny Land Trust

    Julie Travaglini talks about how she found a career that balances her passion for education and the outdoors. From inspiring kids to certifying her backyard as a wildlife habitat, Julie connects nature and plants with people on a daily basis. She highlights how technologies, such as iNaturalist, can help connect students to the natural world. Listen now!

  • Guest: Matt Lobdell, Curator of Living Collections at The Morton Arboretum

    Matt Lobdell highlights his interesting career path from anthropology to curating one of the largest collections of trees in North America. His sense of adventure serves him well as he travels to remote locations around the world to find rare or endangered trees for this outdoor living tree museum. Listen now!