When she was in second grade, Laura took a field trip to the State Botanical Garden in her town of Athens, Georgia, and after the visit she knew she wanted to be a scientist discovering more about trees and insects. When one of her favorite redbay trees in the garden died, she asked the local forester why and learned that the redbay ambrosia beetle transmits a fungus that infects and kills trees. The beetle is from Asia, and laurel trees in North America have no defenses against the fungus. Laura decided right then she wanted to protect plants for a living. Now she studies entomology (the science of insects) as a freshman in college.