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About Me

Marissa Keys (undergrad research assistant) and I (right-hand side) examine a sweep net for leaf hoppers, a pest on alfalfa (2012, Chronicle of Higher Education).

I am interested in understanding how interactions between forest and crop plant communities and soil microbes impact ecosystem functions, including crop yield, nutrient cycling, and host susceptibility to pathogens. Each year, while conducting research, I have taught, mentored, and advised students because working with students is one of best parts of my job.

2010-present: PSU Department of Plant Science

  • I recently co-taught a course on ‘Principles and Practices of Organic Agriculture’ in collaboration with Dr. Mary Barbercheck (extension entomologist specialist).  In this course, students designed their own organic farms, from crop rotation, to nutrient & pest management, to markets and economics.  The students also heard from numerous guest speakers who discussed topics such as organic marketing and policy plus visited a grocery store and a farm marketing organic products.
  • I am also a research associate and manager for a large sustainable dairy cropping systems project at Penn State University.  The 12 faculty, several graduate students, numerous undergraduates, and myself are testing the systems we designed to minimize inputs, such as fertilizers, fossil fuels, and pesticides, while maximizing agronomic production and profitability. Check out our website:
Please find more information in the rest of my website.  Thanks for stopping by!

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