People

Liana Burghardt— PI, mentor, teacher, and learner

Liana is an evolutionary ecologist broadly interested in how the environment shapes the evolution of organisms (primarily plants and microbes). Prior to starting my lab in the Dept. of Plant Science at PSU, I was a postdoc at the University of Minnesota in the lab of Peter Tiffin, a graduate student at Duke University in the lab of Kathleen Donohue, and a postbac in Johanna Schmitt’s lab at Brown University. When I am not in the lab, I’m an avid gardener, mountain biker, and cross-country skier, participating in the 29K Korte in WI each year. Feel free to contact me at: liana.burghardt at psu dot edu

Maria Alejandra Gil Polo— Ph.D. student in Plant Biology Program (rotating Fall 2020)

Maria is fascinated by Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPRs). She earned her B.S. in biology at Universidad Nacional Agraria la Molina (Peru) and conducted research at the CBGP in Spain and Cornell University. During that time, Maria took part in diverse projects related to biological control, microbial diversity, and secretion of recombinant proteins. While examining the role secretion systems play in plant-bacteria communication, she became particularly fascinated by the molecular mechanisms underlying the rhizobium-legume symbiosis. In grad school, she seeks to learn more about the genes and molecular processes behind this relationship.

Jennifer Harris— Ph.D. student in Ecology Program (starting Fall 2020)

Jenn studied Biological Sciences and Environmental Studies at Wellesley College, and worked at a sustainable agriculture startup before joining the lab. She is pursuing a PhD in the Ecology Program and is interested in plant-microbe interactions, soil microbial ecology and nutrient cycling. She is also co-advised by Estelle Couradeau in Ecosystem Science and Management. 

Karin Burghardt— look alike

This is me, with my brilliant identical twin sister Karin. She is not actually in the lab. She is a assistant professor in the Entomology Department at the University of Maryland (check out her website!). This can be confusing at conferences. She studies plant-insect interactions in natural and human-influenced systems. While not technically part of the lab, there will be joint the lab outings since her lab is only 3 hours away!

YOUR DISSERTATION CAKE HERE?

I made this cake to celebrate the defense of the formidable Dr. Lindsay Leverett who is has now found her calling as an academic editor. She studied the shift from facilitation to competition across ontogeny in Arabidopsis in the field (note the different sized rosettes).