Our Lab

Donald R. Zak

Alexander H. Smith Distinguished University Professor of Ecology
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professor of Ecology
University of Michigan
School for Environment & Sustainability

Affiliate Faculty Member
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Adjunct Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Science

PhD 1987, Michigan State University
MS 1983, University of Idaho
BS 1981, Cum Laude, Ohio State University

Rima Upchurch
Lab Manager
I graduated from Agnes Scott College with a degree in Biology, and I received my MS in Microbiology from the University of Georgia. I have always been interested in using molecular techniques to study microbial ecology and community structure, especially in soils. During grad school, I came to realize the importance of bioinformatic tools as a way to gain insight into soil microbial communities. My time in the Zak lab, though, has shown me that while tools are important, it's the scientific framework and questions asked that drive discoveries in ecology.

Morgan McPherson
Morgan is a plant biologist turned microbial ecologist. She is interested in and fascinated by mycorrhizal community dynamics in forests and agroecosystems. Currently, she works as a postdoctoral research fellow in the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan. Prior to that, she completed her Ph.D. research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), investigating how mycorrhizae respond to diverse crop rotations and variable N fertilization regimes. She also obtained her B.S. in plant biology and biotechnology from UNL. Morgan's current research examines how mycorrhizal communities interact with and respond to the changing climate, specifically the contribution of organic N via mycorrhizal fungi on plant growth response to elevated atmospheric CO2. She has experience and skill sets in data analysis, molecular biology, fieldwork, scientific teaching, and scientific communication. She is always happy to chat about science so feel free to reach out!
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Recent Lab Alumni

Jennifer Wen
SEAS MS Student 2020-2022
Will Argiroff
SEAS PhD Student, 2017-2022
Peter Pellitier
SEAS PhD Student, 2015-2020
Wes Bickford
EEB PhD Student, 2014-2019
Etienne Herrick
Research Technician 2018-2019

PhD Student, UM SEAS

Elizabeth Entwistle
SNRE PhD Student, 2008-2016
Zachary Freedman
Postdoctoral Researcher, 2012-2016
Assistant Professor, West Virginia University
Lauren Cline
SNRE PhD Student, 2010-2015

Computational Microbiologist, Bayer Crop Science

Anna Peschel
SNRE MS Student, 2012-2014
PhD Graduate Student, University of Minnesota
Huijie Gan
EEB PhD Student, 2008-2013
Postdoctoral Researcher, Cornell University
Sarah Eisenlord
Research Technician, 2008-2013 (MS 2008)
Research Scientist, Gas Technology Institute
Pat Micks
Research Technician, 2007-2012
Amanda Garzio-Hadzick
MS Student, 2010-2012

Water Resources Lab Director at Villanova University

Dana Thomas
MS Student, 2009-2011
Academic Advisor, NC State University
Kyle Whittinghill
Postdoctoral Researcher, 2010-2011
Lecturer, University of Pittsburg
Linda Van Diepen
Postdoctoral Researcher, 2009-2010
Assistant Professor, University of Wyoming
Sierra Patterson
MS Student, 2008-2010
Forest Botanist, US Forest Service
Karl Romanowicz
PhD Student, UM EEB
Sydney Salley
PhD Student in Geobiology, UC Davis
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