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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 graduated in 2007 with a PhD in Ecology from Pennsylania State University (PSU), where I researched metabolic responses of microorganisms to changes in temperature.  Since then, I’ve been researching new topics (fungal pathogen interactions with a variety of plant hosts and sustainable dairy cropping systems) and teaching ecology at a variety of institutions, both large and small.  I’ve consistently done both of these things because I am passionate about teaching and mentoring, and my long-term goal is to find a faculty position at a small liberal arts college, where I will balance both on a daily basis.


  • I am an instructor at PSU in the Department of Plant Science and am teaching a course on ‘Principles and Practices of Organic Agriculture’ in collaboration with Dr. Mary Barbercheck (extension entomologist specialist).  In this course, we have the students designing their own organic farms, from crop rotation, to nutrient & pest management, to markets and economics.  The students also have met with numerous guest speakers who have discussed organic marketing and policy to name a couple of topics plus have 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 14 faculty, 6 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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