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

We study the continuum of interactions between organisms that live in soil (plants, fungi, and invertebrates) and their (bacteria and archaea) microbiomes, melding classical organismal biology with modern microbial ecology to understand how these interactions contribute 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.

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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

June 2020

Congratulations to Ishwora Dhungana for passing her MS Thesis Defense with flying colors!

The lab received two awards from USDA NIFA to run two projects! We will be providing research and technical training opportunities to undergraduate students and we will develop methods to measure soil biodiversity.

May 2020

Congratulations to Jon Abe for receiving the Senior Honors Project Award in natural science category! Each department may only nominate one student whose work is selected among other nominees.

April 2020

Welcome to Christian Fullmer, who will join us in the fall to start his MS graduate program!

March 2020

Lab operations have been reduced to a minimum necessity. Stay safe everyone!


Take a trip down Memory Lane...


Prospective Students

Graduate students
I look for students (both PhD and MS) who are inquisitive, motivated, independent, hard-working, with good communication and writing skills. These characteristics are absolutely essential to be successful in my lab. If you are interested in joining the lab, contact Nhu directly. Send me your CV, a statement of your interests (see below for example) highlighting your career goals, research interests, and how you see yourself fitting into the larger research themes of the lab, and any supporting documents that might be helpful (CV, transcripts, etc...). 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 officially begin your research and training.

Undergraduate students
Are you a motivated undergraduate student interested in exciting research? Typically undergraduate students commit to about 6-9 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 (posters, presentations, publications, etc..). Previous undergraduates in the lab have received credits for research/internship, produced senior theses, won awards, and went on to graduate or professional schools! There are several excellent undergraduate research programs that you can apply to here at UH that provide either stipend or research funding. Contact Nhu to participate in exciting research.