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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Five Minutes of Fame: Casey Hall


Casey Hall, biology senior and garden coordinator at UH’s Office of Sustainability | Courtesy of Matthew Kelly

Casey Hall was just a little girl when she fell in love with gardening.

Today, the biology senior is the garden coordinator of UH’s Office of Sustainability. Some of her responsibilities include growing enough food to donate to local food pantries and to assist living facilities, education in and outside the garden and promoting events for the garden.

During the summer, Hall, along with about 20 other students, took part in a research project called the Summer of Apps. The students created a mobile app called Local Leaves, which pairs people with the types of plants they could potentially grow in their yards.

The Cougar: What’s the most interesting thing to you about gardening?

Casey Hall: Getting to grow your own food and teach others how to grow in more ways than just memorizing a book.

TC: Can you tell us about your research and how it was funded?

CH: My research was primarily focused on the plant app (Local Leaves) and the farmer’s market app (Houston Farmers Markets).

TC: What is Local Leaves and where can students download the app?

CH: Local Leaves is a plant dating app of sorts. It matches the user with the ideal plant for them based on a variety of inputs from the user and other data from other users. It will be on Google Play and in the iTunes store soon.

TC: What kinds of plants work best in Houston soil?

CH: Those that are both desert plants and tropical plants, but a perfect answer would be native plants that have evolved to the environment for a millennia or more.

TC: Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

CH: My mother, the traditional stay-at-home mom that took my siblings and I to every school and extracurricular function every day of the year. I still call her for most everything that I can’t figure out.

TC: Is there a particular professor at UH or throughout your academic career whom you’d like to commend?

CH: Dr. Frankino was one of my favorite professors. He really pushed his whole class to understand things on a whole different level to figure out the right questions to ask.

TC: What’s been the best part of being a student here at UH?

CH: The campus environment. It offers what you want from it. You can just go to class or you can become known to every faculty member/staff/student on campus and do most anything you can think of with the many departments.

TC: What is your philosophy on life? Can you tell us why?

CH: “Que sera, sera.” I’ve spent too much of my time worrying about what others think of my decisions, myself, and what I should do. It’s much more gratifying and way less stressful to just do what you enjoy and find interesting and everything will just fall into place after that. To be happy as a person is what I strive to be.

TC: What has been your favorite memory at UH so far and why?

CH: I can’t say there has been just one memory that stands among the rest. There are so many from the years that I have been here that highlight different things about my life, past and present.

TC: What do you think about UH?

CH: It has changed a lot and it will continue to do so, hopefully improving the community around it.

TC: Why did you choose biology as a major?

CH: It was in the sciences, and after I had migrated from pre-pharm to chemistry, then to biochemistry, it fit the classes I had taken and some that I wanted to take.

TC: When do you expect to graduate?

CH: I hope to graduate in two semesters, but if I get the money to take a travel abroad trip, it will probably take three.

TC: Are you part of any student organizations, and can you tell us which ones and why you chose those programs?

CH: I’m only a part of Horticulture Society but serve as the VP because I am so busy with my various jobs and other volunteer requirements. I chose Horticulture because I was already interested in plants, and they were a perfect gateway (before I got involved in the garden) to allow me to be outside and have my own little green spot in the city.

TC: Are you going to graduate school and if so, where?

CH: I’d like to, but it all depends on what I find is the perfect fit for what I want to do research in. I’m volunteering in three different labs right now to decide which aspects of each that I like and find interesting.

TC: Do you believe graduate school is a good investment?

CH: It depends on what you want to do with your life. If you want to become a researcher or professor then yes get a Ph.D., if you just want to further your education and specify in your field for a bit, get a Masters. I do believe it isn’t for some people. They are perfectly happy in the positions they are in/seeking that don’t require them.

TC: What do you want to do with your future?

CH: Help people, be happy, and travel the world.

TC: What school-related activities have been the most fun for you?

CH: The garden has been the most fun because it involves so much outreach, but the outdoor movies and concerts are great also.

TC: What is the most significant turning point in your life?

CH: When I decided to live for myself and not worry about what others thought.

TC: What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?

CH: Do what you want, but do it well. If you say you will be there, be there no matter how late you are or will be. And this is a thing for me because I can’t say no to anyone asking for help or doing cool activities, but say no occasionally.

TC: If you could meet a younger version of yourself (maybe a 16 to 18 year old you) in the future, what advice would you give yourself?

CH: Be the person you want to be and everything will fall into place. Don’t be a hypocrite and just talk problems, find solutions, find yourself.

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