I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville. I am broadly interested in the community ecology of plant microbiomes, and how we can harness plant-associated microbiomes to improve crop health.
October 2023 - Natalie has been named UofL's 2023 Early Career Researcher of the Year!
September 2023 - The lab has a new grant! We will be funded for 4 years on a USDA EEID grant and will investigate the role of the microbiome on pathogen infection on hemp.
August 2023 - Noelle has passed her comprehensive exams and is now a PhD candidate!
August 2023 - Another successful field season completed! Lab members have traveled to field sites in Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan this summer to collect data and samples.
June 2023 - Connor received a John Rieger Seed Grant from the University of Louisville to collaborate with the Atlanta Botanical Garden!
April 2023 - Natalie has been elected as an ESA Early Career Fellow for "pushing the boundaries of ecological knowledge and enriching our profession." Congratulations, Natalie!
April 2023 - Allison received third place on her talk at the Kentucky-Tennessee Branch of the American Society for Microbiology Spring Meeting!
February 2023 - Noelle has been awarded a grant from the Marcia Athey and Botany Fund through the Kentucky Academy of Science!
October 2022 - Kylea publishes a chapter of her dissertation, "Epichloë increases root fungal endophyte richness and alters root fungal endophyte composition in a changing world" in Journal of Fungi. Check it out!
August 2022 - Natalie and Dr. Sarah Emery receive an NSF DEB grant to study how a keystone fungal symbiont shapes the mycobiome in a foundational dune plant, Ammophila breviligulata. Excited to see all the work that comes out of this project!!
August 2022 - New PhD student Emma Throneburg received a University of Louisville Graduate School Fellowship, and will be co-advised by Natalie and Dr. Rachel Pigg. Welcome, Emma!
May 2022 - Dr. Connor Morozumi joins us as a USDA Postdoctoral Fellow after recently defending his dissertation at Emory University. Welcome, Connor!!
April 2022 - Natalie and colleagues Drs. Rachel Pigg, Mikus Abolins-Abols, and Jeff Masters receive the University of Louisville TILL Teaching Innovation award in recognition of their redesign of the intro biology lab sequence.
April 2022 - Haley Sage successfully defends her honors thesis - go Haley!!
August 2021 - Welcome Noelle Visser, our newest PhD student!! So excited to have you in our lab group.
February 2021 - Natalie and colleagues Drs. Rachel Pigg, Mikus Abolins-Abols, and Jeff Masters receive a grant from KY INBRE to redesign the introductory biology lab curriculum at UofL. The new courses will include a Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) that will introduce all first-year biology majors to scientific inquiry and modern lab techniques!
October 2020 - Allison published her first first-author paper on work from her undergraduate research, Root fungal communities associated with better performance of an invasive spring ephemeral. Congratulations, Allison!
June 2020 - Incoming PhD student Allison Paolucci successfully defended her master's thesis at Ohio University! Congratulations Allison, and looking forward to you joining the lab this fall!!
January 2020 - I have officially started my new position at the University of Louisville!
August 20219 - Had a blast organizing an oral session with Amy Zanne and Posy Busby at ESA 2019 in Louisville! What a fabulous group of speakers!!
March 2019 - Enjoyed visiting Panama to work on a manuscript and give a Tupper Talk at STRI!
January 2019 - "Foliar endophytic fungi alter patterns of nitrogen uptake and distribution in Theobroma cacao" is now available online as an accepted article at New Phytologist!
August 2018 - Had a fantastic time at ESA 2018 in New Orleans!
July 2018 - Undergraduate mentee Amber Toussaint capped off a successful summer research experience by presenting her poster "How does climate change affect endophytic fungi?" Way to go, Amber!
July 2018 - I presented the Fun^Fun Traits Database at the International Mycological Congress in Puerto Rico.
February 2018 - I have officially started my postdoc at the University of Illinois with Katy Heath, co-advised by Posy Busby at Oregon State. I am funded by a USDA Postdoctoral Fellowship, and excited to investigate interactions between aboveground and belowground plant microbes!
December 2017 - I successfully defended my dissertation!
August 2017 - Went to ESA in Portland, OR, and had some great conversations about endophytes and chemical ecology! Special thanks to the ESA Microbial Ecology Section for awarding me a student travel grant.
July 2017 - Presented my cacao research at ATBC in Mérida, Mexico (and had some great food!!).
July 2017 - Just published "Exposure to the leaf litter microbiome of healthy adults protects seedlings from pathogen damage" in Proceedings of the Royal Society B! I got the chance to talk with CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks about this study - listen to the podcast here.
May 2017 - Back to Panama for a month to collect some more data!
April 2017 - So honored to receive the Indiana University Albert Ruesink Outstanding Associate Instructor Teaching Award in Biology.
March 2017 - Traveled back to Santa Barbara to continue working with the NCEAS Fungal Traits working group! We are making a lot of progress on a couple of exciting projects!
February 2017 - My colleagues and I contributed a chapter to the 4th edition of The Fungal Community, which was recently published!
October 2016 - Quick trip back to Panama to attend and present at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Microbial Ecology Symposium!
August 2016 - Lots of travel this month! I presented my research at the ESA meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, and then traveled straight to Santa Barbara to participate in a fungal traits working group at NCEAS!
June 2016 - The first chapter of my dissertation was published in Microbial Ecology! Read it here.
February 2016 - I found out that my DDIG proposal was recommended for funding!!
February 2016 - I traveled to Gamboa, Panama to do the experiments associated with one of my dissertation chapters.
August 2015 - I attended and presented at ESA’s Centennial Meeting in Baltimore, MD. Check out the abstract here.
August 2015 - My colleagues and I had review paper published in Frontiers in Microbiology!! You can read “Microbiomes: unifying animal and plant systems through the lens of community ecology theory” here.
August 2015 - I was awarded an NSF GRIP (Graduate Research Internship Program) award to continue my research in collaboration with Allen Herre and Luis Mejia at the Smithsonian Tropical Institute.
May 2015 - My undergraduate mentee Courtney Sullivan successfully defended her senior honors thesis on fungal endophytes in White Snakeroot!! Her work was also recognized with several grants and awards through the Biology Department and the Hutton Honors College. I am so proud of you, Coco! Good luck in Atlanta!!
April 2015 - I defended my dissertation proposal and have advanced to candidacy!
I am broadly interested in community dynamics of plant-associated fungi, both aboveground and belowground. In particular, I am interested in the community assembly and functional implications of foliar endophytic fungi.
I am passionate about education, and take a multi-pronged approach to my pedagogical pursuits, including not only teaching and mentoring, but also formal pedagogy training and classroom research.
I have combined my interests in nature and education by conducting outreach that focuses on restoring healthy forests and reconnecting the community with their woodlands.