About Me

I’m currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Michelle Heck’s lab in the Plant Pathology and Plant Microbe Biology department at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.  I’m currently working on developing nucleic acid- and peptide-based biocontrol methods to mitigate citrus greening disease. Prior to my current appointment, I spent three years studying soil Streptomyces diversity and ecology in Dr. Dan Buckley’s lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

I received my PhD in Microbiology at the University of Tennessee in Frank Löffler’s lab studying fungal nitrous oxide formation and the detection, diversity, ecology, and evolution of fungal p450nor sequences. My research in the Buckley lab involved high-throughput sequencing analyses of soil streptomycetes, bacteria, and fungi.  I’m particularly smitten by the feedback between soil edaphic characteristics and microbial genome content and microbial population dynamics. Another big interest of mine are the causes and consequences of genetic interactions and exchanges between soil dwelling microorganisms (e.g., streptomycetes and fungi). Overall, my research intersects microbial physiology, ecology, evolution, and genomics.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a variety of prior research experiences that began during my career as an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. My first undergraduate research experience was exploring the population dynamics of several shy yet majestic turtles species on the Missouri river near Vermillion South Dakota. For my second undergraduate research experience, I was fortunate enough to assist with cell biology research in the model moss, Physcomitrella patens, in Dr. Magdalena Bezanilla’s lab at Umass Amherst. 

I then conducted M.S. thesis research at the University of South Dakota (go yotes!) in Dr. David Swanson’s Lab, where I investigated whether urea enhanced freezing survival in the boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata).

After my M.S. degree, I was accepted as a Ph.D. candidate in the Microbiology department at the University of Tennessee. My PhD thesis research focused on investigating the contribution of fungi to nitrous oxide emissions from soils. In particular, my PhD research utilized experimental approaches (i.e., enrichment and cultivation) in conjunction with development of molecular tools to target denitrifying fungi in the environment. I also utilized high-throughput sequencing to enhance our understanding of the diversity of denitrifying fungi in the environment. The Microbiology department at the University of Tennessee offered a unique, diverse learning atmosphere, with major strengths in both environmental and pathogenesis related research. The level of academic camaraderie that I’ve experienced within the Microbiology department at UTK has been unmatched, and certainly played a significant role in enhancing my dissertation research.

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