My interest in science began when I was child, where I would spend countless hours exploring the woodlots around London, Ontario and in my grandparent’s garden. As I got older, my appetite and wonder for nature increased and a passion for growing and learning about plants developed. Over the years I have maintained my interest in plants and have become a passionate gardener and a plant physiologist.
My main research interest centers on plant-microbe interactions, with particular interest in understanding how beneficial microbes promote plant growth under stressed and non-stressed conditions. I also have a keen interest in plant biochemistry and cell biology. My undergraduate and Master’s research focused on understanding the physiological mechanisms by which the plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) Pseudomonas fluorescens could promote plant growth under toxic metal stress.
It has been documented that aspen, an ecologically and commercially important deciduous tree in the Canadian boreal forest, have been dying back due to increased temperatures and drought severity. With climate change, it is predicted that greater ambient temperatures and prolonged droughts will occur within the boreal forest, which may reduce aspen stands even further. Therefore, my main area of research with in the Way lab will investigate whether ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) can promote aspen growth under future climate change scenarios. In particular, I seek to determine 1) whether ECMs can promote aspen growth under current climatic conditions, 2) whether ECMs can increase aspen thermotolerance and growth under elevated temperatures and CO2 concentrations, and 3) whether ECMs can increase the drought tolerance of aspen. I also seek to understand and elucidate the physiological and biochemical mechanism(s) that ECMs have on aspen growth.