Eric R. Scott

Ph.D. Candidate, Tufts University
Orians Lab
Tea & Climate Change Collaborative

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Research Projects

Can fermentation rescue low-quality monsoon season tea?

Is microbial ripening a way for tea farmers to improve low-quality monsoon season harvests?

Climate Effects on Bug-Bitten Tea

Eastern Beauty wulong tea is only produced from tea leaves damaged by leafhoppers. The induced volatiles produced by damaged tea plants gives the finished tea a unique flavor. How will leafhopper damage change in a warming climate, and how will that impact tea quality?

Drought and plant response to herbivory

When plants experience mild or severe drought, how does that change their metabolic response to damage by insect herbivores?

Elevated CO2 and plant response to herbivory

How will elevated CO2 affect plant responses to insect herbivory? How will this interaction impact the quality of tea?

Field-Sampling Plant Volatiles

Finding a high-throughput way to collect plant volatiles in the field.

Selected Publications

To understand plant volatile production in response to environmental stimuli, in situ sampling is necessary. Direct contact sorptive extraction (DCSE) involves placing a PDMS-coated magnetic stir bar (Twisters) in direct contact with a leaf using a magnet. In contrast to dynamic headspace sampling (DHS), this eliminates artifacts produced by enclosing plants in a chamber. We demonstrate that DCSE is more sensitive than DHS, captures a wider range of compounds, and is relatively inexpensive and simple to deploy making it ideal for in situ sampling of plant volatiles.
J Agric Food Chem, 2017.

Recent and Upcoming Presentations

[poster] Generating and analyzing metabolomic data from tea plant volatiles
Nov 8, 2017
A novel, high-throughput method for sampling volatiles in the field
Mar 19, 2017
Can Insect Damage Improve Tea Quality In a Changing Climate?
Feb 24, 2017
A New Method For Sampling Plant Volatiles in the Field
Feb 18, 2016

Peer-Reviewed Publications

. Exogenous melatonin alleviates cold stress by promoting antioxidant defense and redox homeostasis in Camellia sinensis L.. Molecules, 2018.


. Direct Contact Sorptive Extraction: A Robust Method for Sampling Plant Volatiles in the Field. J Agric Food Chem, 2017.

Project HTML

. Taxonomy, life history, and population sex ratios of North American Dasineura (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) on goldenrods (Asteraceae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 2007.



I’ve been teaching biology ever since I was 12 when I became an interpretive guide at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in my home town of Walnut Creek, CA. Since then I’ve taught science of all sorts to all ages in a variety of formats.

Selected Teaching Experience:

  • Biostatstics in R. Fall 2017. Recitation section for BIO132 at Tufts University. In collaboration with Natalie Kerr, we designed and taught this new course. Previously, BIO132 used SPSS rather than R and did not have a required recitation. Course materials available here.
  • Organisms and Populations. Spring 2015. Lab section for BIO0014 at Tufts University. I served as a graduate TA for a lab section of this course in a year when the course was being entirely redesigned. I actively participated in designing course materials and lab activities in addition to teaching my own lab section.
  • Introductory Biology. 2011 – 2014. I taught a guaranteed transfer credit lecture and lab course at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, CO where I was an instructor. My students came from diverse age, socioeconomic, and learning backgrounds. I designed lectures and assessment materials and engaged in revising lab exercises and course materials.
  • Organismal and Evolutionary Biology. MIST section. 2007 – 2009. I was a graduate TA for IB150 at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign as a graduate student. MIST is a program for high-achieving students from marginalized backgrounds such as small, rural schools or large, urban schools that encourages students to form peer learning groups through additional in-class time and active learning.

Recent Posts

I know you’re all waiting on the edge of your seats for an update on the cupcakes vs. muffins data science project, but unfortunately I don’t have any answers to that age-old question* yet. As silly as it may sound, I’m actually considering using this data set for a paper about using PLS (partial least squares regression) for ecological data. So for now, I’m holding off on blogging about any results of analyses in case I end up wanting to use them for the publication.


One thing I’ve learned from my PhD at Tufts is that I really enjoy working data wrangling, visualization, and statistics in R. I enjoy it so much, that lately I’ve been strongly considering a career in data science after graduation. As a way to showcase my data science skills, I’ve been working on a side project to use webscraping and multivariate statistics to answer the age old question: Are cupcakes really that different from muffins?


The LI-6400XT is a portable device used to measure photosynthesis in plant leaves. As you take measurements by pressing a button on the device, they are recorded into memory. In order to keep track of which measurments go with which plants (or experimental treatments), there is an “add remark” option where you can enter sample information before taking measurements. When the data are exported, you get a series of .


As part of my fieldwork in China, I collected harvested tea leaves that were damaged by the tea green leafhopper. I want to quantify the amount of leafhopper damage for each harvest. I was able to find several solutions for quantifying holes in leaves or even damage to leaf margins, but typical leafhopper damage is just tiny brown spots on the undersides of leaves. I did find some tutorials on using ImageJ to analyze diseased area on leaves, but found that the leafhopper damage spots were too small and too similar in color to undamaged leaves for these tools to work reliably and be automated.


I’ve always thought I should eventually have a professional website for job hunting, but recently I’ve realized that it would be nice to have somewhere to collect my thoughts and contributions all in one place. Before having a website of my own, I generally shared updates and thoughts on Twitter and on other people’s blogs, which I will still continue to do, but having everything I do in one place seems like a good idea.



  • 347 Robinson Hall, Tufts University, Medford, 02155, USA
  • Office Hours: Email for appointment