What made you choose UC Davis?
In no other place is there such a rich combination of academic excellence and world-class research in a town with a close-knit community just a stone’s throw away from city life, wine country, the mountains and the ocean. I also appreciate that UC Davis is really walking the walk, in terms of its commitment to diversity and inclusivity.
What research are you currently working on? What makes it unique?
My lab currently studies viruses in soil. Soil harbors an incredible abundance and diversity of viruses that infect bacteria, fungi, plants and other organisms. In addition to direct impacts on ecosystem health as agents of disease and mortality, viruses — somewhat surprisingly — have significant influences on ecosystem ecology and environmental chemistry. For example, by killing 30 percent of the bacteria in the oceans every day, viruses affect carbon flow through food webs that link bacteria all the way up to large macroorganisms. Although viruses are likely to have similar impacts in soil, we know very little about soil viruses, and my lab is working to bridge that knowledge gap. We use genomic and computational approaches to learn what soil viruses are where, how they impact the organisms that they infect, and how they affect carbon cycling, and plant health and productivity.
When not in the classroom or conducting research, what do you like to do?
I like to cook, and love hiking, camping, backpacking and rock climbing. My new favorite reset activity is a trip to the climbing gym followed by pizza.
Have you found your favorite spot on campus yet?
I have not fully explored campus yet, but biking past the cow pasture along Dairy Road on my way to seminars in the Genome Center really makes my day.