Christina Birnbaum

Christina BirnbaumPostdoctoral Research Fellow with the Farrer Lab

Ph.D., Macquarie University, 2013

Research Interests: I am a plant ecologist interested in a wide range of topics related to plants, including their biology and interactions with below-ground micro organisms in native and novel environments, specifically with rhizobia and mycorrhizal fungi. I use field observations, combined with experimental manipulations and molecular tools to explore questions pertaining plant-microbe interactions in natural ecosystems. Previously, I have researched invasive Solidago canadensis (Canadian goldenrod) growth dynamics in Estonia. For my PhD, i moved to Australia and investigated the role of soil and root microbial communities in the invasion success of legumes in Australia. During my post-doc in Western Australia, i was interested in elucidating the role of climate change on soil rhizosphere fungal communities of dominant shrubs and the effects of soil age and pedogenesis on plant endophytes. At Tulane, i will be investigating the invasion success of Phragmites australis (common reed) along a salinity gradient in SE Lousiana by studying its root endophytes and the effects of these plant-soil dynamics on co-occurring native plant species.

Candice Lumibao

Candice LumibaoPostdoctoral Research Fellow with the Van Bael Lab

Ph.D., Notre Dame

Research Interests: I am a (plant) evolutionary ecologist, studying the ecological impacts of the 2010 Deep Water Horizon Spill on saltmarsh grass which is funded through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). My main role in this collaborative project is to quantify to what extent plant microbiome - microbial communities living in saltmarsh grass species-- have been affected by the oil spill. I work closely with Sunshine Van Bael, although the GoMRI project is a collaborative effort among scientists at Tulane, Lousiana State and Duke Universities. Prior to my Tulane U appointment, I was a postdoc fellow at the University of Minnesota where I did research on how evolutionary relationship among fungal assemblages or communities – phylogenetic diversity - influence their response to pervasive nutrient addition as well as herbivory. During my PhD at University of Notre Dame in Indiana, I studied the genetic legacies of 10,000 years of environmental changes – historical climatic changes and human land-use -- on forest tree species, populations and communities using different approaches such as ancient DNA, metagenomics as well as traditional population genetics.

Lorena Torres Martinez

Lorena Torres-MartínezKoch Postdoctoral Fellow

Ph.D., Purdue University, 2016

Research Interests: I am interested in evaluating the evolutionary potential of plant species to respond to projected climate change conditions. Particularly, I seek to understand how gene flow can shape the amount and distribution of genetic variation throughout species ranges to influence their potential to adapt to new environmental conditions. During my PhD I investigated the effects of gene flow in the adaptive potential of a California vernal pool endemic plant species, Lasthenia fremontii from both evolutionary and conservation perspectives. I have also conducted molecular ecology studies in Guadua angustifolia (American bamboo), a tropical species adapted to riparian and wetlands ecosystems in Colombia. Currently, I am evaluating the role of phenotypic plasticity in the adaptive responses of wetland species to extreme climate events, and how the rate of gene flow among populations can affect the evolution of phenotypic plasticity within populations using as a model system L. fremontii.

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