Phone: 732-932-8165, ext. 304
Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
Professional Summary/CV [.PDF]
Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, New Brunswick; Rutgers
Areas of Interest
Plant Pathology, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Turfgrass Moleculary Biology, Endophyte Interaction.
Molecular Genetics, Biotechnology.
Memberships and Professional Service
Associate Professor, Department of Plant Biology and Plant Pathology and Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Cook College, Rutgers University, 2004-present; Assistant Professor (tenure track), Rutgers University, 1998-2004; New Jersey Assistant Research Professor (non-tenure track), 1996-1998; Assistant Research Professor (non-tenure track), Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment, 1991-1996; Assistant Research Professor (non-tenure track), Department of Plant Science, 1991-1996.
Academic Interests and Plans
I am interested in turfgrass improvement through plant transformation and through understanding the grass/fungal endophyte interaction. In my research group, we are interested in using plant transformation technology, in combination with classical breeding efforts, in the development of improved turfgrass cultivars. Turfgrasses are a feature of our environment which enhance the lives of most residents in the United States. We appreciate turfgrasses for their utility in erosion control, their function as surfaces for recreational sports, and their beauty in parks and home lawns. Maintenance of turfgrasses is a major endeavor, requiring large inputs of water and pesticides. Pesticide use is a potential source of groundwater contamination and a major concern to many communities.
The development of disease resistant and stress tolerant turfgrasses would, therefore, be of major environmental and economic benefit. We have developed a very efficient transformation system and are currently field testing many independent transformed creeping bentgrass plants containing potential disease resistance genes. Following the field evaluation, the best plants will be incorporated into the Rutgers bentgrass breeding program for development of new cultivars. We are also studying the beneficial Neotyphodium fungal endophytes which are naturally occurring in some grass species. The presence of the fungal endophytes often confers to the plants the benefit of reduced herbivory by insects and animals due to the production of toxic alkaloids. These symbiotic associations are ecologically and agronomically significant, yet little is known regarding the physiological aspects of the interaction. We are investigating the possible role of a fungal subtilisin-like proteinase in the plant fungus interaction.