I graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.S. degree in Genetics in 1989. My Ph.D. was from the Microbiology Dept. at the University of Washington in 1995 with Prof. Gene Nester, studying Agrobacterium plant signal perception and responses. My postdoctoral research was in Plant Biochemistry with Prof. Milton Gordon in the UW Biochemistry Dept., developing plants with improved phytoremediation capabilities. I am currently an Associate Professor in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences in the College of the Environment. In early 2001, I discovered that poplar trees contained endophytic Rhizobium tropici, a well-known N-fixing bacterial species. Ever since that discovery, I have been intrigued with the idea that the ecosystems within plants may provide the answer to how early-successional
pioneer plant species lacking root nodules can survive and thrive in nutrient-limited substrates. Sampling of poplar and willow in their native riparian environment revealed a wide variety of Nfixing endophytes. The identification of the key endophyte strains that enable plants to thrive under high stress (nutrient limitation, drought, salinity, and pollutants), and the characterization of these microorganisms to determine the mechanisms by which the symbiosis leads to mutual
survival are the major research areas of my laboratory. I am committed to informing the public
and teaching about the prevalence and importance of symbiosis for all life.