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Principal Investigator

Dr. Jan E. Leach


Jan E. Leach is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agricultural Sciences and a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University.  She is an authority on the molecular biology of plant– pathogen interactions.  Her research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of durable disease resistance, particularly in rice-pathogen interactions. Other projects currently underway in her laboratory are related to understanding the impacts of increasing temperatures associated with climate change on plant disease and resistance, microbiome-insect-plant interactions, and the development of novel tools for detection and monitoring of microbes associated with plants. She is a Fellow and past President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). She is past chair of the APS Public Policy Board and led the initiation of the Phytobiomes Initiative. In May 2019, Jan was awarded the Agropolis Fondation Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food for Distinguished Scientist. Jan is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  She served as Chair of the AAAS Section O (Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources) in 2007, and as a member of the Section O Steering Committee. Jan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and member of the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (BANR) for the US National Academy of Sciences.  She also serves as a Non-Resident Fellow of the Noble Research Foundation Institute. Prior to her appointment at CSU, Jan was named a University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University. She served as President of the International Society of Molecular Plant–Microbe Interactions and has served on or chaired advisory committees for a number of national and international projects, programs and institutions, including the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, the U.S. Rice Genome Sequencing Project, the Research Core for Interdisciplinary Science (RCIS) at Okayama University (Japan), Rural Development Agency (Korea), and a National Research Council (NRC) study. She has served on numerous editorial boards, and was Editor in Chief of the APS journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. Jan earned her B.S. and M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a postdoctoral fellow at East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. Follow her on Google Scholar or Twitter @JanPhytoBiomes

Lab Manager/PhD Student

Emily Luna

Emily received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and a master’s degree in Entomology at Colorado State University from the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences Pest Management in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Her master’s project focused on thousand cankers disease of black walnut; specifically, the interactions between the walnut twig beetle and fungus Geosmithia morbida.  Currently, she acts as Lab Manager for the Leach Lab and is concurrently pursuing a PhD in Plant Pathology.  Her duties as lab manager include management of undergraduate lab technicians, budgeting for projects, ordering lab supplies, maintenance of compliance for USDA regulated plant pathogens, coordination of lab meetings and events, website development and maintenance. Her main research project focuses on understanding the complex multi-trophic interactions in the wheat phytobiome with a focus on wheat, the Russian wheat aphid, and aphid-associated bacteria. She also conducts research on the rice-Xanthomonas oryzae pathosystem with a focus on disease phenotyping and the role of a bacterial endophyte of rice, Pandoraea pnomenusa. You can follow her research on Google Scholar.



Post Doctoral Fellows

Dr. Federico Martin

I graduated with a BS in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Arizona State University and received my PhD from the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology program at the University of Florida. My projects have involved working with molecular biology, genetics, plant physiology and biotechnology with the aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of seed and plant development, and plant adaptation to different environments. I decided to join the Leach Lab, where I am currently working on a NSF funded project, to continue studying plant adaptation with aimed to improve defense responses of diverse rice cultivars to invading pathogens. In the process, I am using the latest genome editing tools available to understand the genetics and epigenetic mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of defense response genes. You can follow me on LinkedIn or Google scholar.




Dr. Álvaro L. Pérez Quintero

Born in Riohacha, Colombia, I did my bachelors and masters at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia working with Dr. Camilo Lopez in the cassava-Xanthomonas phaseoli pv manihotis interaction. Then I did my PhD at the Insitut de recherche pour le Development (IRD) in Montpellier, France working with Dr. Boris Szurek, studying transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors from Xanthomonas oryzae. I then did a postdoc at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, with Dr. Lionel Navarro, studying microRNAs in plant-bacteria interactions. And I’m currently doing a postdoc at Colorado State University with Prof. Jan Leach studying again Xanthomonas oryzae. So far, my research has been focused on evolution of pathogen populations and cross-kingdom gene regulation, either via small RNAs or TAL effectors. You can follow me on Google Scholar.



Graduate Students

Jennifer Shipp

Jennifer has a BFA in communications design from the University of South Florida and a BS in biotechnology from Colorado State University. She is currently working on her MS in plant pathology in the Leach Lab and her research topics include phytohormones, microbiomes, plant physiology, and tissue culture. She is interested in understanding the influences of diverse environmental conditions on the development of rice and other food crops.






Research Associates

Janet Hardin

Janet is a new member of the Leach Lab, having spent several years as a research associate working on a diversity of systems, predominately involving invasive species. In Montana and Colorado she has worked primarily as a field biologist in studies on the control of exotic weeds (notably biological control using arthropods), ecology of plant communities, and conducting surveys for invasive insects and diseases of agricultural crops. An ecologist by nature, she is fascinated by the interactions between plants, insects, and plant pathogens. She is currently assisting with research on the relationships between the Russian wheat aphid, aphid-associated bacteria, and their damaging interactions with wheat and barley.

Lab Affiliate

Dr. Jillian M. Lang

Jillian is a Leach Lab alumna. She currently serves the College of Agricultural Sciences as Director of Strategic Partnerships but continues to conduct small scale research in the Leach Lab. She is interested in the evolution of pathogenicity in Xanthomonas species and has expertise in the development of molecular diagnostic tools for important and emerging plant pathogens. Her favorite agricultural systems are rice and corn. She has a B.S. in Biology from the State University of New York, College at Fredonia, then received her M.S. in Plant Pathology and a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University. Follow her on Twitter @jillianmlang or Google Scholar.





Undergraduate Lab Assistants

Casey Mazzotta

Jacob Sharkey

Jacob Sharkey is currently finishing his fourth year of undergrad at CSU, working to receive a BS in Biochemistry with a concentration in pre-pharmacy. In the past, he has done research on prion formation, and now assists in the Leach Lab on various projects. His main project is working with Postdoctoral Scientist, Dr. Federico Martin on the genome editing project aimed to improve defense responses of Oryza sativa.







Lab Alumni

Alejandra Huerta, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University

Stephen Cohen, Postdoctoral Researcher, Jonathan Jacobs Lab, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Jonathan M. Jacobs, PhD, Assistant Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology, Department of Plant Pathology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

John Long, Lab Manager, Jonathan Jacobs Lab, Ohio State University, Colombus, OH

Dr. Jillian Lang, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Brad Tonnessen, PhD, Senior program specialist, New Mexico State University, Chile pepper breeding and vegetable extension, Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (WSARE)

Ana M. Bossa Castro, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Sciences, Universidad de los Andes, BogotĂĄ, Colombia

Jules, Butchacas, Graduate Student, Jonathan Jacobs Lab, Ohio State University

Elysa (Lysa) DuCharme, Research Associate, Bureau of Land Management

Paula Turrini, Visiting Scholar, GaTE Lab, Departamento de BotĂąnica, Instituto de BiociĂȘncias Universidade de SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil

Paul Langlois, MS Student, USDA-APHIS, Fort Collins, CO

Meghan Ferguson, Research Assistant, Fort Collins Cat Rescue, Fort Collins, CO

Emily Delorean, MS Student, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Dr. Paul Tanger, AAAS Fellow, Washington D.C.

Dr. Tony Campillo, Post-Doc, France

Dr. Lindsay Triplett, Post-Doc, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT

Dr. Valérie Verdier, Visiting Scientist and Marie Curie Fellow, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Montpellier, France

Robin Mom, MS Intern, L’universitĂ© Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France

LoĂŻc Deblais, Visiting Scholar, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Rashad Reed, MS student

Rene Corral, MS student, Regis University, Denver, CO

Dr. Hongxia Liu, Visiting Scientist, Chinese Academy of Agriculutural Sciences, Beijing, China

Andrew Wiersma, MS student, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Dr. Courtney Jahn, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Monica Osnaya GonzĂĄlez, Visiting Scientist, Colegio de Postgraduados, Campus Campeche, Mexico

Dr. Myron Bruce, Research Assistant Professor, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Dr. Adam Heuberger, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Elizabeth Grabau, Visiting Scientist, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Dr. Rebecca Davidson, Assistant Professor, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO

Dr. Amadou Seck, PhD student, CERAAS, Senegal

Dr. Seweon Lee, PhD student, National Academy of Agricultural Science, South Korea

Dr. Todd Gaines, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Gloria Mosquera, Plant Pathologist, CIAT, Colombia

Jacob Snelling, M.S. student, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Dr. Hiromichi Ishihara, Post-Doc, Okayama University, Japan

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