Research Interests

My research focuses on interactions between symbiotic fungi, plants, and the environment - endeavors that began for me as a kid exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwest Virginia. Specifically, I am interested in understanding factors that influence: (1) ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi and (2) forest plant composition, health, and growth dynamics. Given our location in an increasingly populated suburban region, my research especially considers the impacts of human-related disturbances on ECM fungi and plants. Recent studies in my lab have focused on the influences of Amur honeysuckle allelopathy on oak-associated ECM fungi, the distributions and health status of ash and hickory species, and the impacts of Amur honeysuckle and spicebush on oak root growth. I teach Forest Biology, Humans and the Environment, Mycology, and Plant Communities courses.

ECM Fungi


Student Research

Undergraduate Projects

  • Jared Kline - Black walnut (Juglans nigra) status at the Gordon Natural Area
  • Julia Amarant - Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maakii) allelopathic effects on woody plant growth
  • Jahmai Fisher - Evergreen tree diversity and structure of the WCU North Campus
  • Zack Signora - White ash (Fraxinus americana) status at the Gordon Natural Area
  • Kelly Ryan - Tree growth and mortality in forest habitats at the Gordon Natural Area
  • Carl Cummins - Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) status at the Gordon Natural Area
  • Chagh Xiong - Host tree size and light influences distributions and size structure of Celastrus orbiculatus
  • Kim Mazari - White-tailed deer browse selectivity and intensity in a forest restoration site
  • Veronica Schrader - Garlic mustard extract influences ectomycorrhizal fungi from red oak seedlings
  • Lauryn Levy - Macrofungal diversity at the Gordon Natural Area
  • Rachel Stern - The status of White oak in a Chester County Natural Area

Graduate Projects

  • Genevieve Pomeroy - Effects of exotic shrub allelopathy and light on woody plant growth
  • Jon Klein - The street and alley trees of West Chester Borough
  • Marie Schneider - Leaf litter, earthworm, and garlic mustard interactions
  • Derek Bowman - Influence of conventional and organic farming practices on riparian plant diversity
  • Justin DiPhillippo - Influence of garlic mustard allelopathy on ectomycorrhizal fungal colonization and communities from red oak hosts
  • David Cambridge - Teaching biological science to students with emotional and behavioral disabilities
  • Tara Shiels - Nutritional biology: using science education to address adolescent obesity

White Ash Project

Seniors Kendra McMillin & Zach Signora presenting study at the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Symposium, Philadelphia.

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Forest Health Management Project

Seniors Will Ricci & Kelly Ryan taking a break from the woods.

Ricci and Kelly standing outside together


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