Grads, Postdocs, Staff

Laura Bogar (Grad)

img_3294Laura joined the lab as a graduate student in September of 2013. She earned her undergraduate degree in Biology at Lewis & Clark College in May 2012. Laura’s research is focused on the ectomycorrhizal symbiosis between land plants and soil fungi. This relationship, in which plants trade fixed carbon (sugars) to the fungi in exchange for soil resources like nitrogen, has arisen dozens of times independently in the fungal lineages, and is critical for the nutrition of many temperate forest trees. She is interested in how this interaction functions on a physiological and genetic level, particularly with respect to compatibility between diverse plants and fungi, and how variation in symbiotic function across fungal lineages and environmental conditions contributes to the stability of the interaction over evolutionary time. Email: lbogar AT stanford.edu

Alexandra Bloom (Admin)

Stanford Logo Placeholder.pngAlex is an Administrative Associate who does all sorts of administration (and beyond!) for our lab. Alex has been helping us since our lab started, but her Stanford career is actually much longer—she was recently celebrated for over 30 outstanding years at Stanford. Alex also works with the Walbot and Long labs, where she has been since she first came to Stanford. We have no idea how we’d get anything done without her around—so thank you, Alex, for your hard work and dedication!

Rolando Cruz Perez (Grad)

RPerez_PortraitI am the first born son of Mexican immigrants and I was born and raised in Salinas, CA. I am a trained bioengineer and my current work lies at the intersection of artificial
intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and mycotechnology. Central to my approach is a belief that the worlds most pressing issues will not be solved by individuals and that the solutions to such issues begin with people. In the Peay lab I hope to apply a human centered design approach to help the lab push forward their understanding of the ecology of filamentous fungi, as well as develop tools for the use of mycelia and mushrooms in next-generation biomanufacturing and the growing bioeconomy. In my free time I enjoy the natural world, especially surfing waves on the California coast. Email: rcperez AT stanford.edu

Glade Dlott (Grad)

IMG_0574Glade joined the Peay lab as a graduate student in September 2015. He earned a B.S. degree in Soil Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in June 2012, where he studied soil chemistry and morphology. He then earned an M.S. degree in Environmental Science and Technology in May 2015 at the University of Maryland, College Park. At UMD, he worked with Dr. Stephanie Yarwood studying the effects of different long-term agricultural management regimes on soil physicochemical properties and microbial populations and communities. His research interests include the role of soil physical and chemical factors in shaping microbial community structure, as well as fungal/bacterial interactions in soils. His PhD work is still preliminary, but may involve studying competition between bacteria and fungi in soils with heterogeneous nutrient availability. Email: gdlott AT stanford.edu

Rachel Engstrand (Grad)

RCEslothRachel joined the Peay lab as a graduate student in September 2015. She earned a B.S. degree in Molecular Biology at New York University in May 2010, where she used phylogenetic and population genetic tools to study the diversity of endangered tropical plant species and their insect pests. She earned a dual M.S. degree in Ecology and Evolution in October 2013 through the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME). As a masters student, she studied plant-animal interactions using both molecular and field ecology tools to understand how these interactions can influence the evolutionary history of interacting partners as well as influence plant community composition across entire landscapes. As a PhD student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program for Environment and Resources (E-IPER), Rachel is studying what drives land use by small holder farmers in the Peruvian Amazon and how different land uses influence ecosystem functioning by examining changes in soil nutrient and microbial community composition. Email: rengstrand AT carnegiescience.edu

Sonya Erlandson (Grad)

Sonya joined the lab in September 2011 as a graduate student in Plant Pathology at the U of M and is now joining the Stanford Biology Department with us. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biology & English at St. Olaf college. She has worked on a wide range of forest ecology projects in Sweden and for the USDA Forest Service. Sonya’s PhD. research is trying to characterize the reciprocal feedback between mycorrhizal community struture and plant ecophysiology across a strong hydrological gradient at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve. She is collaborating with Prof. Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Jessica Savage, and Xiojing Sun at U of M who have carried out detailed ecophysiological characterization of Salix spp. at this site. Email: erlandso AT stanford.edu

Max Segnitz (Grad)

IMG_2341Max joined the lab in 2013. He completed a B.A. at Berkeley in 2009 in Integrative Biology and Studio Art, and has since contributed to a number of research projects in various fields including plant ecophysiology, community ecology, and evolutionary ecology, conducting work in California, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago. His interests begin broadly with large scale patterns in plant community structure across our planet’s tropical regions, but get narrower with an interest the role/mechanisms of plant-soil-feedbacks in shaping tropical forest composition & function. He has particular interest in how differences among soil fungal communities may contribute to contrasts in plant community dynamics across tropical regions. To learn more about Max’s work, please see Max’s personal website. Email: segnitz AT stanford.edu

Gabriel Smith (Grad)

Gabriel_SmithGabriel joined the lab as a graduate student in September 2016. He earned a B.S. in Conservation Biology from the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry in 2015, where he studied mycorrhizal fungi and forest ecology with Drs. Tom Horton and Ruth Yanai. After spending the summer in Dr. Luke Flory’s plant ecology lab at the University of Florida, he moved to Uppsala, Sweden in Fall 2015, where he was a Fulbright Fellow in the Department of Forest Mycology & Plant Pathology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He is interested in evolutionary and ecological relationships between mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi and their effects, ranging from organism to ecosystem scale. Email: grsmith AT stanford.edu

Brian Steidinger (Postdoc)

brianBrian joined the Peay Lab in 2016 after completing his Ph.D. at Indiana University with Dr. Jim Bever. He is interested in how mutualisms are stabilized against exploitation, how variability in symbiont quality is maintained, and how the balance of environmental filtering with positive and negative interactions explains species distributions. He uses a combination of empirical and theoretical tools to answer these questions, with an emphasis on plant-mycorrhizal and plant-pollinator symbioses. Email: bsteidi AT stanford.edu

Joe Wan (Tech)

joe_with_omphalotusJoe joined the Peay Lab in 2015 as a Stanford undergraduate. He completed his Computer Science honors thesis (“Learning evolutionary and functional aspects of plant–fungal mutualism from public genomic data”) under Kabir’s co-advisorship. After graduating in 2016 with a B.S. degree in Computer Science and Biology, Joe rejoined the lab as a technician. He is interested in developing and applying computational tools to understand plant–fungal symbiosis, fungal biogeography, and the evolution of the mycorrhizal lifestyle. Email: joewan AT stanford.edu

Blue Forrestel (Lab Companion)

IMG_0947Blue makes the occasional appearance in lab, where she focuses her time on distracting and comforting people, chasing squirrels and exercising the graduate students.

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