Category Archives: grad

Shawna Rowe


Image taken at the International Society for Microbial Ecology 2016. Shrubbery name unknown.

Shawna is a PhD student in the Department of Plant Biology performing research in the Friesen lab. She started her PhD during the summer of 2015 and is interested in how leguminous plants recognize differential nitrogen fixing abilities in rhizobia and how they distribute resources accordingly. Additionally, she is fascinated by how the microbiome influences the symbiotic relationship, specifically instances of rhizobial cheating. Evolution, biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology are all exciting topics and Shawna is excited to see where her PhD will take her in the world of research.

Additionally, Shawna enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking, baking, traveling, reading, and generally having new experiences. She currently sits as a member of the social committee for the Plant Biology graduate student association. She is an active member of BEACON: The center for evolution in action and of the Plant Biotechnology for Health and Sustainability program. She is interested in science communication and education directed at individuals who are not aspiring/ active scientists. She enjoys a casual coffee/ tea addiction.

Shawna grew up in Ozarks region of Southwest Missouri and completed a B.S. in Biochemistry with a Minor in Peace Studies at the University of Missouri. Her time at Mizzou led to her love of plant-microbe interactions. 

Colleen Friel

IMG_3932 (2)

Colleen is a Plant Biology graduate student working in the Friesen lab. Colleen earned he BS in Biochemistry at Allegheny College in Meadvile, PA. She is interested in understanding how plants and microbes trade resources in the rhizosphere. Her current projects include exploring mechanisms of partner selection in clover, characterizing genomic diversity of rhizobial populations, and mathematical modeling of the carbon-nitrogen trade between legumes and rhizobia.

She is a member of the BEACON Center for Evolution in Action, the Plant Biotechnology for Health and Sustainability program, and the Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) program at Michigan State. After graduate school, Colleen plans to pursue a career in agricultural biotechnology focused on increasing agricultural output and sustainability through plant-microbe interactions.

Eleanor Siler


Ellie is a PhD candidate  in the Friesen lab. She is interested it plant symbiosis, how plants chose symbionts, fluorescent proteins, mutualism, and evolution. Ellie grew up in Washington State and got her biology B.S at Western Washington University.