323 Plant Science Building
The focus of my program is on disease ecology in both agricultural and natural ecosystems, with emphasis on the soil ecology of oomycete pathogens.
My research program focuses on the ecology of plant pathogens and the diseases they cause in both agricultural and natural ecosystems. The goal of our work in natural ecosystems is to understand the role of soil pathogens in plant community dynamics, especially plant invasions. We take advantage of plant-soil feedback theory to serve as a framework for our specific studies. Currently, my lab is exploring the ecology of oomycete pathogens in wetland ecosystems invaded by Phragmites australis and the potential mechanisms by which these pathogens spillback to native plants, reducing their competitiveness, and facilitating the success of invasive species. We are also exploring ways in which invading plants interact with pathogen-suppressive rhizosphere microbial communities to promote invasive success in non-native ranges. The goal of our work in agricultural systems is to understand the mechanisms by which organic soil amendments suppress soilborne diseases caused by oomycetes in the genus Pythium.
An applied emphasis of my work is in the area of biological control of oomycete diseases and in the management of invasive plant species.
I currently teach both undergraduate and graduate courses related to the biology and ecology of infectious diseases. An overriding theme of my undergraduate courses courses is the integration of our understanding of human, animal, and plant diseases into a common conceptual framework as a means of examining disease as a unique biological process common to all organisms. The typical preparation for medical and veterinary students does not include such a broad treatment of disease processes. My graduate courses focus on more advanced concepts in disease ecology and oomycete biology, emphasizing critical analyses of primary research literature.