Tori Ehrhardt

Tori Ehrhardt is a rising senior in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences, double-majoring in psychology and biology. She is also an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Psychiatry within the UNC School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the use of probiotics in pregnancy and their effects on the microbiome.

Tori Ehrhardtphoto by Peggy Mullin
July 18th, 2018

When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

A scientist. I was a very curious child and, growing up, I questioned everything. I remember being asked to leave the classroom on multiple occasions because I asked “but why?” too many times for my teacher’s patience.

RESEARCH IN 5 WORDS:

“Probiotics in pregnancy are essential.”

Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose your field of study.

I knew I wanted to study science since the fourth grade when Christina Price, a mother figure and role model to me, was diagnosed with brain cancer. Growing up, I aspired to be a part of the medical solution for individuals like Christina. There are so many unanswered questions permeating the field of biology, especially in regards to our bodies in relation to the environment.

Tori Ehrhardt with her two brothers and sister

Ehrhardt (second from left) has three siblings and they all live in Phoenix, Arizona, where she is from. She tries to visit them as much as she can when school is not in session.

Tell us about a time you encountered a tricky problem. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?

Despite my curiosity as a child, learning didn’t come easy to me. I was constantly envious of my peers who could understand a concept after being taught it a single time. I asked a ton of questions and worked longer hours than most in order to comprehend a concept that took some just a few moments. At first, I was frustrated. It was only when I progressed through my academic career that I realized something: You can be innately intelligent and still not attain success. I learned that being driven is the most important component of success and that possessing this trait can help me overcome any barrier that may stand in my way.

What are your passions outside of science?

I am what I call a “closeted musician.” I find release in music, and it is hard for me to go even a week without playing the piano (horribly) and singing along to every chord. I consider myself “closeted” because it is a part of myself I do not share with many people and so, as far as my friends are concerned, my musical abilities remain a myth.

Women in Science Wednesday highlights UNC researchers at all levels of their careers across dozens of fields. From medicine to mathematics to sociology, women at Carolina excel in research, mentorship, and advocacy. Click here to nominate an exceptional scientist.