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? Beneficial plant-microbe interactions alter valuable host traits including yield, plant vigor, nutrient acquisition and tolerance to stresses. Consequently, engineering a tailored microbiome is an attractive strategy for sustainable agriculture; however, the approach requires an understanding of the molecular dialogue between the different interacting partners to accurately predict the desired outcomes. In the Northen Group, I use the Fabricated Ecosystems (EcoFABs) in combination with exometabolomics to identify and characterize the secreted metabolites that are responsible for the action of a commercial microbial consortia that improve crop yields, replenish soils, and is safe for people and the environment.
How do you think that project would change if you were working on it in the year 2330 instead of today? I think we will be living in the ‘cloud’. If not, I think that agricultural security for food-designated crops and bioproducts will be an immediate priority due to climate change, increased population size, and the need for resources to sustain an everyday lifestyle. The challenge would be the need to produce resilient, low-input crops with increased productivity and certainly, improved tolerance to harsh environments and diseases. With that in mind, I think the project will be an intersect from the insight gained from current fundamental and applied biological research, the advancement of high-throughput technologies, and the use of genetically modified plants and microbes (hopefully, through more social acceptance).
When did you join JGI? November 2018
Where did you join us from? Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee
What drives your passion outside of JGI? Trying everything twice to see if my opinion was right the first time including visiting new places, wineries and reading on something outside my field.
What song do you currently have on repeat? Taylor Swift – Lover (embarrassing)
What is your favorite quote? ‘There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living’ – Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
What is your favorite place to visit? Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy
What is your favorite food? Anything South African (I always miss home)