Drawing of Suillus ectomycorrhizha, spores; soil nematode, fungus, bacteria, protists; plant grass rhizosphere network

We study the interactions between organisms that live in soil (plants, fungi, and invertebrates) and the various fascinating ways that they interact with their (bacterial) microbiomes, melding classical organismal biology with modern microbial ecology to understand how diversity of interactions contributes to functional outcomes. We address fundamental questions in soil microbiology and organismal interactions (i.e. symbioses) that could lead to concepts and products that directly benefit the environment and society. We use transdisciplinary approaches, with strength in 'omics techniques to answer our questions.

The major focus of the lab is the interactions between two of the most ubiquitous groups of soil microorganisms - fungi and bacteria. We are interested in understanding who are interacting with each other, how they interact, and what are the important impacts of these interactions to ecosystem function, especially the soil environment.

Hawaiʻi is an impressive natural laboratory and is an incredible place to do research. The Hawaiian Islands have 10/12 (83%) Soil Orders and 27/38 (71%) Bioclimatic Life Zones on the planet. The intersections between them provide a wealth of environmental diversity, as well as replicability, for terrestrial ecosystem research. We leverage these environments in our research and you can find us digging in fields, forests, and greenhouses, in both natural and managed tropical ecosystems.

Lab News

October 2019

Our lab received funding from the Department of Energy to study soil nutrient movement as part of a larger project led by Mary Firestone at UC Berkeley! Part of the project will examine fungal-bacterial interactions.

September 2019

Welcome to Christopher Kim, our newest lab member!

May 2019

Steven passed his thesis defense and won the UH Manoa Graduate Student Organization Merit Award for Research! Congrats, Steven!

April 2019

Jon was awarded the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) funds to study rhizobia in native and invasive legumes. Congrats, Jon!

February 2019

Ishwora passed her qualifying exam to become a master's candidate. Congrats, Ishwora!

Take a trip down Memory Lane...

Prospective Students

Graduate students
I look for inquisitive, motivated, independent, hard-working, with good communication and writing skills in graduate students (both PhD and Masters). These characteristics are absolutely essential to be successful in my lab. Graduate students interested in joining the lab should contact Nhu directly. Send me your CV, a statement of your research interests (see below) and how you see yourself fitting into my lab. Once we agreed about you joining the lab, you will apply to the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. Once you have been accepted, you will then join my lab and begin your research. Previous life, work, and/or research experiences are usually a better determination of your success in research so I tend to weigh these much more heavily than GRE scores, although under certain circumstances, the scores might help.

Undergraduate students
Are you a motivated undergraduate student interested in exciting research? Typically undergraduate students commit to about 9 hours/week to research for at least two semesters, although the amount of time you spend highly correlates to the output product of your research. You can also get elective course credits for doing research or produce a senior thesis. Additionally, there are several undergraduate research programs that you can apply to here at UH that provides funding support. Contact Nhu to participate in exciting research.