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

We study the continuum of interactions among 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 in their ecosystems. Through transdisciplinary approaches, with strength in 'omics techniques, we address fundamental questions in soil microbiology and organismal interactions that could lead to novel concepts and products that directly benefit the environment and society.

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 soil ecosystem function.

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

September 2022

The lab received a grant from the Department of Energy to study fungal-bacterial interactions in soil! We were featured by UH News, and Nhu was interviewed by Hawaii Public Radio on the project.

August 2022

We start a new fall semester with great news. Makana Ioh returned from her summer undergrad research experience on the mainland. She was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) award from UH Manoa and will start her exciting project this fall.

June 2022

Our collaborative paper on using plant/root phenotyping as a model for undergraduate research education is published. We made the cover of the journal Natural Science Education!

April 2022

Welcome to our latest lab member, Giovana Slanzon! Giovana just completed her PhD and joins the lab study fungal-bacterial interactions in the soil. Welcome Giovana!

March 2022

Welcome to our latest lab member, Laurens Stouthart! Laurens is visiting us from the Netherlands. Welcome Laurens!

It seemed only yesterday that...

Prospective Students

Graduate students
I look for students 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, please email Nhu directly with the following documents: 1) a detailed CV, and 2) a statement of interest that highlights who you are, your career goals, why you want to join my lab group, how you see yourself fitting into the larger research themes of the lab, and the skills that you have that can potentially contribute to the lab and topic of study. Feel free to attach and supporting documents that might be helpful (CV, transcripts, publications, etc...). I will not respond to introductory emails that appear to be pre-formed and sent to a large number of potential advisors, so if you are truly interested, be sure that you follow the guidelines above. Once we agreed about you joining the lab, you will apply to the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences (TPSS). Once you have been officially accepted into the department, you will then begin your research and training.

Undergraduate students
Are you a motivated undergraduate student interested in exciting research? Typically undergraduate students commit to at least 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! You can also apply to some excellent undergraduate research programs here at UH that provide either stipend or research funding. Contact Nhu to participate in exciting research.