Shalila likes playing the electric guitar and basketball. Someday she'd like to pursue a career as a science journalist, which would allow her to "combine her passions for science and writing into one job."
Shalila became inspired to do this project by the noni, a small tree that grows in Hawaii and bears fruit thought to have several medicinal qualities. These fruit are naturally infected with fungi, which may be responsible for the noni's purported health benefits. However, it's unknown whether the fungal infection spreads to each subsequent generation through the noni's seeds, or whether the fungi reach individual noni plants through outside vectors, such as wind or insects.
Shalila collected leaves and flowers from seven different plants growing on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus. She cut these plant parts into small pieces and laid them on a petri dish spread with a nutrient solution that encourages fungi to grow. Since fungi grew mostly from leaf pieces and not flowers, which bloom only for a short time, the results suggested that fungi reached the plants from outside vectors and weren't present at the time each plant sprouted from its seed.