March 2020 – present

Adjusting to COVID-19 has been something each member in our lab must face. As we work from home, we communicate primarily through online services. With Zoom, our lab group is able to stay connected, coordinated, and productive during these uncertain times.

February, 2021

The image to the left shows the poster that our post-doc researcher Di Liang presented at the Genomic Science Program (GSP) 2021 Virtual Conference, where he articulates research regarding the optimization of measurement methods for N2 fixation in Miscanthus x giganteus.

January, 2021

Ph.D. student Alonso Favela had his manuscript, “Maize germplasm chronosequence shows crop breeding history impacts recruitment of the rhizosphere microbiome”, accepted by the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) Journal!

August, 2020

Our lab’s Nutrient Research and Education Council’s (NREC) grant proposal – “Managing the Maize Microbiome for Sustainable Nutrient Retention in Illinois Agricultural Soils” – was funded!

August, 2020

Di Liang’s grant proposal – “The Role of Bradyrhizobium in Nitrogen Cycling and Sustainability of Miscanthus” – was funded by the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences!

April 22, 2020

On Earth Day of 2020, Sandy Simon presented her Ph.D. dissertation defense: “Trees, Fungi, Insects: How Host Plant Genetics Builds a Community” on a virtual Zoom meeting with ~50 participants. Her research, carried out with Dr. Stephen DiFazio at West Virginia University, highlights the importance of understanding underlying genetics within a community in order for proper management of certain pests or beneficial allies on various tree species in the Salicaceae and Salix families.

April, 2020

Our proposal for the United States Department of Energy (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), “Mining ancient genomes for mechanisms to improve nutrient retention in maize agroecosystems”, was approved for full funding! Our lab celebrated with a virtual Zoom meeting happy hour on Friday, April 3rd.

April, 2020

Isaac Klimasmith joins our lab as a new Ph.D. student. He is interested in studying the influence of biostimulants on agricultural nutrient cycling.

April, 2020

New publication! “Impacts of directed evolution and soil management legacy on the maize rhizobiome” with our collaborators Amélie Gaudin and Jennifer Schmidt was just published in Soil Biology and Biochemistry.

March 11, 2020

Monique Hazemi presented her defense for her M.S. degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences. Her thesis focused on understanding how the built environment of conservation programs influences disease prevalence in the endangered western pond turtle (Actinemys marmorata) by altering their shell microbiome.

Kent GSP Poster

February 23rd-26th, 2020

Members of our lab group (Dr. Kent, Alonso, Sierra, Niuniu, Sandy, and Rachel) attended the 2020 Genomic Sciences Program (GSP) Annual Principal Investigator (PI) Meeting at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. This opportunity allowed us to present our research in the poster shown to the left. We were able to coordinate with the Department of Energy (DOE) staff and network with scientists working on research related to bioenergy and biofuels.

February 20, 2020

Angela, Rachel, and Maddy take an all-day trip to the Argonne National Lab to coordinate with collaborators. We spent the day as a group brainstorming ideas of experimental designs to plan a project to detect the microbial response to specific pollutants.

February, 2020

Sierra Raglin and Isaac Klimasmith are both awarded 3-year fellowships by the Graduate College! Sierra received the Graduate College Fellowship, while Isaac was awarded the Illinois Distinguished Fellowship. Our lab celebrates and congratulates Sierra and Isaac over mimosas on a Friday afternoon.

January, 2020

Danyang Duan joins our lab as a new Master’s Student. She is interested in looking at how nitrogen-fixing bacteria (diazotrophs) are influenced by the rhizosphere of Miscanthus plants.

November 12, 2019

On this day, Angela Kent coordinated with researchers from the University of California-Davis and Colorado State University to present the talk: “Toward Harnessing the Potential of Plant-Soil Microbes’ Interactions to Enhance Maize N cycling and Acquisition”. This was done in San Antonio, Texas, at the ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meeting: Embracing the Digital Environment.

August 14, 2019

Sada Egenriether and Angela Kent present a poster at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) conference in Louisville, KY. Sada’s presentation, titled “Dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium occurs at soil moistures low enough to inhibit denitrification”, focused on how DNRA supports primary productivity, reduces nitrate leaching, and can compete with denitrification to decrease gaseous dinitrogen and nitrous oxide losses.

August 13, 2019

Alonso Favela and Angela Kent present a talk at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) conference in Louisville, KY. The 20 minute talk, titled “Ancient roots: Influence of teosinte loci on rhizosphere microbiome on maize”, focused on identifying the specific host genetic elements which have the potential to alter the assembly or function of the host-associated microbiome.

August 13, 2019

Monique Hazemi and Angela Kent present a talk at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) conference in Louisville, KY. The 20 minute talk, titled “Western pond turtles and shell disease: Uncovering the role of the microbiome in species recovery”, focused on comparing various conservation rearing programs for the Washington state-endangered Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata). Monique’s research highlights which environments promote the best animal health based on the strength of the shell microbiome to protect the turtle from fungal disease.

August, 2019

Niuniu Ji joins the Kent lab and moves to Urbana, IL from Beijing, China. As a post-doctoral researcher, her goals within the Kent lab include uncovering the interactions between plants, soil, and microbial communities in common crops such as Maize and Sorghum. Previously, Niuniu has surveyed forests all throughout China to determine the effects of evolution on the microbial communities within these ecosystems.

July-August, 2019

In July, Rachel Waltermire, a former undergraduate researcher of the Kent lab, re-joins the lab with the position of a field technician. In August, Sandy Simon also starts working in the Kent Lab as a field technician. As Sandy and Rachel consistently work on similar tasks together, Dr. Kent has referred to them as “Randy”, creating a team name for the Kent lab technicians.

August, 2019

Elle Lucadamo, our former laboratory technician, leaves the Kent Lab for a full-time position at Fisher Scientific in Chicago, IL. She held the position of Dr. Kent’s technician since August of 2018. Prior to this, Elle graduated from Dr. Yannarell’s lab with a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, with a focus on how cover crop influence soil microorganisms and their community structure.

June, 2019

Angela presented at the Plants of the Future Conference at New York University. This conference, organized by Nature Conferences, provided a forum for discussion of ways that plants can meet future environmental challenges and societal demands. Angela’s talk: “Mining ancient genomes for plants of the future” presented our work in examining traits for sustainable plant-microbe interactions that may have been lost through the process of domestication and crop breeding, and prospects for introgressing these traits into future crops. Progress and prospects for advances from a variety of disciplines were presented at this conference. Inspiration came from synthetic and systems biology, plant–microorganism interactions, epigenetics, development, and plant physiology.