People

Katy Heath

Associate Professor
Department of Plant Biology, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology
Affiliate, Department of Microbiology
kheath at illinois.edu
Find Katy on Google Scholar

Check out our Infection Genomics for One Health (IGOH) theme at the IGB

Education:
Postdoc University of Toronto
PhD University of Minnesota
BS University of Illinois

Rebecca Batstone

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Genomic Biology

rtbats98 at illinois.edu

Education:

PhD Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

MSc Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN)

BSc Biology (Hons), MUN

rtbats98 at illinois.edu

Rebecca is interested in understanding the genetic underpinnings of how nitrogen-fixing rhizobia adapt to both the free-living (i.e., soil) and symbiotic (i.e., host) environments. While changes in standing genetic variation and de novo mutations are known to play a role, we currently do not know how acquiring genes horizontally (i.e., versus vertically via descent) influences rhizobial adaptation to changing environmental conditions. Rebecca will be using a combination of experimental evolution approaches, genetic manipulations, genomic sequencing, and bioinformatics to address this issue. Check out Rebecca’s website and Google Scholar citations.

Mario Cerón Romero

Postdoc

mceron at illinois.edu

Education:

PhD Univ. Massachusetts Amherst

MS Universidad de Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras

BSc Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia

Mario is developing pipelines for studying how lateral transfer and natural selection together shape symbiotic extended phenotypes, like rhizobium partner quality. Mario is using bioinformatics and phylogenetics on our collections of hundreds of Rhizobium and Ensifer strains for this work. Check out Mario’s Google Scholar page.

Abdel Halloway

Postdoc

ahallowa at purdue.edu

Education:

PhD University of Illinois at Chicago

BS University of Illinois at Chicago

Check out Abdel’s Google Scholar page.

Abdel is combining models and data to study how mutualism evolve in response to important changes in environmental conditions.

Ivan Sosa Marquez

Graduate student, Microbiology
ivan3 at illinois.edu

Education:
BS and MS Biological Science, Autonomous University of Querétaro

Ivan is interested in the genetics and evolution of establishment and ongoing partner quality in Medicago truncatula and Ensifer meliloti. He is studying the population genetics of candidate genes for partner quality variation in Ensifer and validating the function of key mutations.

Karla Herzmann

Graduate student, Plant Biology

kherzma2 at illinois.edu

B.S. UIUC Natural Resources and Environmental Science

Karla is working with Katy and Natalie Christian (now at U. Louisville), studying how fungal and bacterial endophytes in soybean leaves interact with each other and the CO2 environment to alter plant growth and plant yield.

David Vereau Gorbitz

Graduate student, Microbiology
davidv3 at illinois.edu

Education:
BS Molecular Biology; University of California San Diego

David is working with Katy and Cari Vanderpool (UIUC Microbiology) on a project studying how symbiosis plasmid mutations at particular genes and/or entire plasmids can alter partner quality in Rhizobium in response to high nitrogen environments. His project is part of our new Biological Integration Institute (GEMS)!

Undergraduate Researchers:

Julia Paoli (Business & IB)

Labake Oyetayo (IB)

James Kosmopoulos (IB Honors)

Riley Popp (MCB)

Nevers Mushimata (MCB)

HEATH LAB ALUMNI

Alex Riley

Currently a MS student in Curriculum and Instruction
abriley2 at illinois.edu

Education:
BS Integrative Biology (Honors) Minors in Mathematics and Chemistry; University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

Check out Alex on Twitter @AlexRiley715 or on google scholar

Laura Goralka (IB 2020)

Matt Monk (IB 2020)

Natalie Christian

Now: Assistant Professor at University of Louisville

Previously: United States Department of Agriculture AFRI Postdoctoral Fellow

Photo by Sam Roy.

Education:

PhD Evolution Ecology and Behavior; Indiana University

BA Ecology, BA Spanish; Vanderbilt University

I am a USDA postdoctoral fellow co-advised Katy Heath and Posy Busby (Oregon State University). I am exploring how aboveground and belowground plant symbionts modify each other, and ultimately host plant defense and productivity. Specifically, I am using soybean (Glycine max), an agriculturally important legume, to study how the host’s characteristic N-fixing rhizobia bacteria interact with foliar endophytic fungi. Understanding and harnessing interactions between multiple beneficial plant symbionts could be a fruitful avenue for sustainable agriculture and represent a future direction for crop breeding programs. Check out Natalie’s website and Google Scholar page.

Hanna Lindgren

Postdoctoral researcher

Education:

PhD Plant Biology, University of Helsinki

hkl at illinois.edu

Interests:

Plant-microbe interactions, fungal symbioses, coevolution, systematics and phylogenetics

Baldemar Basurto (Bakersfield C.)

Xinyan Xu (FAFU China)

The lab in October 2015:

Heath Lab Members

Jennifer Jones

graduate student, PEEC – currently at Kellogg Biological Station at Michigan State University

jenmj321 at gmail.com

interests:

fungal community genetics, nutrient cycling, mycorrhizae

education:

PhD University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

BS American University

Cassandra Allsup

Postdoctoral scholar

Mike Grillo

NSF Plant Genome postdoctoral fellow – currently at Loyola University Chicago

mikegrillo at gmail.com

interests:

evolutionary genetics, plant-microbe coevolution

education:

PhD Michigan State University

Matias Fernandez

graduate student, plant biology (graduated 2018)

matias.fernandez0 at gmail.edu

interests:

historical conifer species distributions

education:

BS Columbia University

Shawn Brown

Postdoctoral fellow – currently at University of Memphis

interests:

microbes, ecology, evolution, metagenomics

education:

PhD Kansas State University

Julia Ossler

graduate student, plant biology

ossler2 at illinois.edu

interests:

plant-rhizobium-AMF tripartite interactions and mutualism ecology and evolution

education:

MS Nova Southeastern University

BS Illinois College

Amber Toussaint

Haleema Ahmed

undergraduate researcher

interests:

plant-rhizobia coevolution

education:

UIUC Integrative Biology Honors

Taylor Weathers

undergraduate researcher

interests:

Epidemiology/disease ecology, plus conifers and of course rhizobia

education:

UIUC Integrative Biology

Emily Davis

undergraduate researcher

interests:

rhizobia and plant-soil feedbacks

education:

UIUC Integrative Biology Honors

Justin Podowski

undergraduate researcher

podowski2 at illinois.edu

interests:

astrobiology

microbiology

bacterial genetics

education:

UIUC MCB

Horace Zeng

undergraduate researcher

horace.zhl at gmail.com

interests:

conifer genetics, science communication, creative writing

education:

UIUC Crop Sciences and Ecology and Conservation Biology

currently:

PhD

Weixi Zhao

undergraduate researcher

interests:

Conifers, so far!

education:

UIUC Integrative Biology

Shoham Band

undergraduate researcher

shohamband at gmail.com

interests:

Multi-player interactions, herbivory effects on plant colonization by AMF and rhizobia

education:

UIUC Integrative Biology

Kathryn Solórzano Lowell

graduate student, plant biology

slrznlw2 at illinois.edu

interests:

fungal community genetics, microbe-microbe interactions

education:

BS Hampshire College

Christie Klinger

graduate student, plant biology

christie.klinger at gmail.edu

interests:

evolutionary genetics of nitrogen adaptation

in symbiotic rhizobia

education:

BS Dominican University

MS University of Illinois

Ben Gordon

graduate student, Plant Biology

brgordon at illinois.edu

interests:

rhizobium genetics & evolution, classical air guitar

education:

BS UIUC SESE (School of Earth Society and Environment)

MS University of Illinois

Leah Caplan

undergraduate researcher

lindybythelee at gmail.com

interests:

conifer genetics, science communication, creative writing

education:

UIUC Creative Writing and Integrative Biology

Pat Burke

research associate

burke at life.uiuc.edu

interests:

biophysics, genomics, & evolution

education:

PhD California Institute of Technology

Richard Hartland

undergraduate researcher

lhartland at gmail.com

interests:

rhizobium-mycorrhizal

interactions

education:

UIUC NRES

Carissa Zielinski

undergraduate researcher

zielins1 at illinois.edu

Awarded “high distinction” in Spring 2013!

interests:

evolution of mycorrhizal fungi-rhizobia interactions

education:

UIUC IB

Currently: technician in the Friesen lab at MSU!

Gavin Blyth  

undergraduate researcher

blyth1 at illinois.edu

interests:

Plant endophytes, symbiosis, flow cytometry, rhizobium fitness

education:

Graduated, UIUC IB Honors

Elida Iniguez

undergraduate researcher

iniguez at illinois.edu

interests:

TBA

education:

Graduated, UIUC IB

Patrick Knapik

undergraduate researcher

knapik1 at illinois.edu

interests:

TBA

education:

UIUC IB Honors

David Ealy

undergraduate researcher

dealy2 at illinois.edu

interests:

TBA

education:

Graduated, IB UIUC