Jessa Ata

Sustainability Leadership Fellow Cohort: 2021-2022

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Agricultural Biology

Research Summary: My research focuses on using genetic information and tools to better understand conifer foliage pathogens that are increasingly emerging due to more frequent warm rain events. These pathogens are causing severe and sustained epidemics in evergreen forests and consequent ecological damage. In my research, I specifically identify relationships among the pathogens to predict patterns of disease spread. I also characterize the pathogen interactions with other microbes living inside host trees to better understand the functions of microbes in healthy versus diseased ecosystems. Finally, I am developing DNA-based tools to rapidly and accurately identify pathogens and diagnose foliage diseases.