Past Research Experiences
My early days in research involved plant secondary metabolites and their role in plant-microbe interactions. The work started during the final year of pursuing a B.Sc. at Western University (London Ontario, Canada) under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Bernards. I became interested in plant biochemistry, and the means by which plants communicate with their environment through secondary metabolites. I continued my M.Sc. in the same lab under the supervision of Dr. Bernards where I worked with the Ginseng-Pythium pathosytem. I investigated the allelopathic role that Ginseng saponin exudates have in mediating root rot by Pythium irregulare. After that I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Soil Science at Ohio State University (Columbus Ohio, USA) to gain a better understanding of the environment that hosts both plants and microbes. Because of this, I now have a very deep appreciation for the complexity of the plant-microbe interaction in the 'real world' vs. in the 'tube'. My Doctoral research involved the Soybean-Phytophthora pathosystem under the mentorship of Dr. Richard P Dick and Dr. Warren Dick. I investigated the potential involvement of elicitins (a small group of highly conserved proteins secreted by Phytophtora) in mediating disease in soybean. I also developed a soil biochemical assay as an early warning system for determining Phytopthora sojae prevalence in soils using lipid profiling as a technique.
I spent one year as a visiting scholar at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology during my faculty appointment with the Department of Water and Environmental Engineering at the former Masdar Institute (which merged in 2017 with two other institutes in the UAE to form Khalifa university of Science and Technology) . During that time, I collaborated with Dr. Penny Chisholm on devising experiments to understand the biological process of salt acclimation in cyanobacteria using transcriptomics as a tool while (click here to learn more).
Active Research Program
My active research program focuses on studying soils, fungi and plants in arid environments.
(1) soil regeneration practices to improve soil quality, for example via the use of biochar and/or cultivation of non-conventional crops (click here to learn more).
(2) cultivation and screening of native soilborne fungi for beta-glucosidases that have utility in various industries (click here to learn more).
(3) extraction and identification of biologically active metabolites from desert plants. (click here to learn more).