Busby lab, Oct 2018




Devin Leopold is a community ecologist who currently studies the ecological and evolutionary processes that affect the assembly and function of plant-associated microbial communities. His PhD research with Tadashi Fukami at Stanford University focused on fungi associated with the roots of a single ericaceous plant across a 4.1 million year soil chronosequence in the Hawaiian Islands. Using a combination of field surveys and laboratory experiments, he investigated how soil substrate age and shared evolutionary history affect the composition and structure of fungi co-occurring within a root system. As a postdoctoral research in the Busby Lab, Devin will be studying endophyte-pathogen interactions and the role of host genetics as a driver of fungal community assembly in the Populus Trichocarpa leaf microbiome.




Lucas Nebert is a USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow working to identify endophytes that can be used to enhance drought tolerance in dry farmed crops (beans, corn, squash, tomatoes) in the Pacific Northwest. His research is co-advised by Amy Garrett of the OSU Dry Farming Collaborative. Lucas’ PhD research in the Bohannan lab at the University of Oregon focused on characterizing the structure and function of the corn seed microbiome.





Maggie Wagner is a plant biologist and NSF Postdoctoral Fellow working on interactions between plant genes, microbiome composition, and disease resistance in maize breeding populations (a collaborative project with Peter Balint-Kurti). As a Ph.D. student in the lab of Tom Mitchell-Olds at Duke University, she studied the evolutionary ecology of complex trait plasticity and host genetic control over leaf and root microbiomes in the wild perennial mustard Boechera stricta.





nataliephotoNatalie Christian is a community ecologist and USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow (co-advised by Katy Heath, University of Illinois) currently investigating how interactions between aboveground and belowground plant symbionts affect host productivity and pathogen defense. Natalie received her PhD in 2017 from Keith Clay’s lab at Indiana University, where she studied the assembly and function of foliar endophytic fungal communities.






Graduate students

edphotoEd Barge has broad interests in fungal evolution, ecology, systematics, biogeography, and plant pathology. His Master’s research at Montana State University under Dr. Cathy Cripps focused on filling some gaps in this knowledge through an investigation of systematics, biogeography and ecology of arctic-alpine members of the ectomycorrhizal genus Lactarius. His Ph.D. research in the Busby lab will focus on studying the evolution and ecology of plant-fungal interactions in the Populus trichocarpa system. He uses molecular techniques to explore foliar fungal community ecology, population genomics/phylogenomics, and plant-pathogen-endophyte interactions. This research will lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary and ecological roles fungi play in forest and agricultural ecosystems.


Kyle Gervers Profile Pic

Kyle Gervers is a PhD student working with Posy and Joey Spatafora on fungal symbionts of Pseudotsuga menziesii, Douglas fir. He is using a variety of molecular and analytical approaches to describe genetic and ecological factors that contribute to the maintenance of symbioses and fungal community structure across the range of Douglas fir. Kyle studied the systematics and biogeography of Jatropha as an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin.




Kayla Delventhal is a Botany and Plant Pathology Master’s student working with Ken Frost and Posy Busby. She is broadly interested in sustainable agriculture, the role of plant microbial communities in plant health, and plant disease prevention. Kayla studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut for her undergraduate degree and conducted research on animal behavior. Her research at OSU will be focused on the soil microbiome in the potato system, and more specifically, microbial recruitment in the rhizosphere and its potential impact on disease development.




Undergraduate students

Gillian Bergmann is an OSU Honors College student studying bioresources and sustainable ecosystems. Her research characterizes fungal seed endophytes of Pseudotsuga menziesii, focusing on their role in abiotic stress tolerance.

Sabrina Heitmann is a senior Organismal Biology and Ecology major at Colorado College. She is working to characterize the structure and function of seed endophytes in P. trichocarpa.


shikharShikhar Hatwal is an OSU Honors College student studying bioresources. For his thesis research he is investigating seed endophyte-pathogen interactions in Pseudotsuga menziesii.

screenshot (2) (1)Mrinal Thapliyal is a junior in the Honors College. He is majoring in Biology with a Pre-Medicine option. He is broadly interested in the role endophytes play in the tolerance of various stressors in plants.

Former members


Shawn Brown, Assistant Professor, University of Memphis