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Principal Investigator

Dr. Jan E. Leach

Jan E. Leach is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agriculture, University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University and an Adjunct Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (Philippines). She is an authority on the molecular biology of plant– pathogen interactions.  Her research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of durable disease resistance, particularly in rice-pathogen interactions. Other projects currently underway in her laboratory are related to understanding the impacts of increasing temperatures associated with a changing climate on plant disease and resistance,  microbiome-insect-plant interactions,  the development of novel tools for detection and monitoring of microbes associated with plants, and  bioenergy (genetics of biomass production). She is a Fellow and past President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). She is past chair of the APS Public Policy Board and led the initiation of  the Phytobiomes Initiative. Dr. Leach is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  She served as Chair of the AAAS Section O (Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources) in 2007, and as a member of the Section O Steering Committee. Dr. Leach is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and serves on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. Prior to her appointment at CSU, Dr. Leach was named a University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University in 1998. She served as President of the International Society of Molecular Plant–Microbe Interactions and has served on or chaired advisory committees for a number of national and international projects, programs and institutions, including the U.S. Rice Genome Sequencing Project, the Research Core for Interdisciplinary Science (RCIS) at Okayama University (Japan), Rural Development Agency (Korea), and a National Research Council (NRC) study. She has served on numerous editorial boards, and was Editor in Chief of the APS journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. Leach earned her B.S. and M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a postdoctoral fellow at East Malling Research Station in Kent, England. Follow her on Twitter @PhytoBiomes @JanPhytoBiomes

 Lab Manager

Emily Luna

Emily received a B.S. in Horticulture and M.S. in Entomology at Colorado State University from the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences Pest Management in 2012. Currently, Emily acts as Lab Manager for the Leach Lab and also conducts her own research.  Her main research project focuses on understanding the complex multi-trophic interactions in the wheat phytobiome with a focus on: wheat, Russian wheat aphid, and their associated bacteria. Emily also conducts research on the rice-Xanthomonas oryzae pathosystem.



Post Doctoral Fellows

My research interests focus on broad translational impacts for international agriculture and development. This interest arose in part from my personal experience in a family of agricultural field of California and a U.S. Borlaug fellowship in Global Food Security where I worked on a USAID Horticulture Project in Bangladesh and Taiwan. I’m currently investigating novel mechanism of resistance using Xanthomonas spp. and rice as my model system. I am passionate about agriculture, plant diseases, and STEM education.

I graduated with a BS in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from Arizona State University and received my PhD from the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology program at the University of Florida in 2012. My project involved the mapping and characterization of maize seed mutants with the aim to understand the molecular mechanisms of seed and plant development, particularly at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level. I have held post-doctoral positions at the University of Florida as well as Colorado State University working in different aspects of post-transcriptional mechanism of gene regulation that are involved in plant development and adaptation to different environmental conditions. Building on my past experiences and looking forward to continue implementing molecular biology to understand plant adaptation, I decided to join the Leach Lab where I am currently working on a NSF funded genome editing project aimed to improve defense responses of diverse rice cultivars to invading pathogens.


Graduate Students

StephenCohenwebsmallStephen Cohen, Cell and Molecular Biology




Lab Affiliate

Dr. Jillian M. Lang
Jillian is a Leach Lab alumna. She currently serves the College of Agricultural Sciences as Director of Strategic Partnerships but continues to conduct small scale research in the Leach Lab. She is interested in the evolution of pathogenicity in Xanthomonas species and has expertise in the development of  molecular diagnostic tools for important and emerging plant pathogens. Her favorite agricultural systems are rice and corn. She has a B.S. in Biology from the State University of New York, College at Fredonia, then received her M.S. in Plant Pathology and a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Colorado State University. Follow her on Twitter @jillianmlang or Google Scholar.






Undergraduate Lab Assistants

Teddy Borland, Jennifer Shipp, Melba Torres Sosa, Taylor Crue and Casey Mazzotta


Lab Alumni

Jonathan M. Jacobs, PhD, Assistant Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease Ecology, Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University

John Long, Lab Manager, Jonathan Jacobs Lab, The Ohio State University

Brad Tonnessen, PhD, Senior program specialist, New Mexico State University, Chile pepper breeding and vegetable extension,
Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (WSARE)

Ana M. Bossa Castro, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Sciences, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Jules, Butchacas, Visiting Scholar, l’Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Elysa (Lysa) DuCharme, Research Associate, Bureau of Land Management 

Paula Turrini, Visiting Scholar, GaTE Lab, Departamento de Botânica, Instituto de Biociências Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

Paul Langlois, MS Student, USDA-APHIS, Fort Collins, CO

Meghan Ferguson, Research Assistant, Fort Collins Cat Rescue, Fort Collins, CO

Emily Delorean, MS Student, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

Dr. Paul Tanger, AAAS Fellow, Washington D.C.

Dr. Tony Campillo, Post-Doc, France

Dr. Lindsay Triplett, Post-Doc, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT

Dr. Valérie Verdier, Visiting Scientist and Marie Curie Fellow, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), Montpellier, France

Robin Mom, MS Intern, L’université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France

Loïc Deblais, Visiting Scholar, Ohio State University, Colombus, OH

Rashad Reed, MS student

Rene Corral, MS student, Regis University, Denver, CO

Dr. Hongxia Liu, Visiting Scientist, Chinese Academy of Agriculutural Sciences, Beijing, China

Andrew Wiersma, MS student, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Dr. Courtney Jahn, Post-Doc, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 

Dr. Monica Osnaya González, Visiting Scientist, Colegio de Postgraduados, Campus Campeche, Mexico

Dr. Myron Bruce, PhD student, USDA-ARS, Manhattan, KS

Dr. Adam Heuberger, PhD student, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Elizabeth Grabau, Visiting Scientist, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

Dr. Rebecca Davidson, PhD student, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO

Dr. Amadou Seck, PhD student, CERAAS, Senegal

Dr. Seweon Lee, PhD student, National Academy of Agricultural Science, South Korea

Dr. Todd Gaines, PhD student, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Gloria Mosquera, Post-Doc, CIAT, Colombia

Jacob Snelling, M.S. student, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Dr. Hiromichi Ishihara, Post-Doc, Okayama University, Japan


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