I received my undergraduate training in biology and ecology with a minor degree in marine biology from the University of New Hampshire. Through work-study programs, I worked with eel grass and studied the effects of the wasting disease responsible for it’s decline on the east coast. I became interested in microbial-plant and microbial-animal interactions and pursued graduate studies in this research area at the University of South Carolina under the direction of Dr. Charles R. Lovell. There I studied the relationship between nitrogen-fixing bacteria (diazotrophs) and the saltmarsh cord grass, Spartina alterniflora. I investigated the impacts of tidal gradients (creek-side to upper marsh) and carbon input (through root exudation) on diazotroph assemblage composition using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) analysis. After graduating, I worked for a private company that performed microbial community analysis on a variety of samples using DGGE and polar lipid fatty acid analyses. I joined Dr. Gary Andersen’s lab at Berkeley Lab in Fall 2004.