From September 16-20, 2019, we introduce you to some of the postdocs at the JGI in honor of National Postdoc Appreciation Week, which recognizes the contributions of these early career researchers. Through a series of hard-hitting questions, we find out what drives each one.
What are you working on? I am a member of the Microbial Systems group led by Susannah Tringe. My current work focuses on analyzing DNA amplicon sequencing data to investigate how nitrogen and water stress influence root-associated microbial communities of sorghum. Sorghum has great potential as a biofuel crop but will have to be cultivated on marginal lands with low nutrient inputs and periods of drought. Some of the microbes that inhabit the areas in and around the roots of plants have the ability to promote plant growth under abiotic stress conditions; thus, the project I am working on is cultivating different sorghum genotypes in the field and characterizing their root microbiomes to define the microbes associated with the most productive sorghum lines under drought and low nitrogen conditions. The ultimate goal is that these identified microbes could then be isolated and used as seed treatments or inoculated directly in the field to improve plant growth.
How do you think that project would change if you were working on it in the year 2330 instead of today? I think the microbial community profiling would be conducted with technologies that haven’t even been conceptualized yet. Also, by then I hope we will have moved away from combustible fuels, and I would be working to develop microbial solutions to increase the growth of important plant species in the extreme environments of other planets!
When did you join JGI? October 2018
Where did you join us from? Agroscope, Zürich, Switzerland
What drives your passion outside of JGI? Exotic foreign travel
What song do you currently have on repeat? “The Mall and Misery” – Broken Bells
What is your favorite quote? “If it seems too good to be true, math will tell you it probably is.” -from this Nautilus article
What is your favorite place to visit? So far, the Cook Islands.