Category Archives: post-doc

Aaron Garoutte


Aaron Garoutte graduated from Hope College in 2006 with a B.A. in Biology. He received his PhD in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics from Michigan State University where he was advised by James Tiedje. Aaron’s PhD work included the use of metagenomics and metatranscriptomics to study the microbial community associated with bioenergy crops Switchgrass (Vanicum virgatum), Miscanthus (Miscanthus gigantus) and Corn (Zea mays).

He joined the Friesen lab in Fall 2016 where he will work as bioinformatician. Aaron is jointly advised by Dr. Kevin Childs.

Alan Bowsher


Alan joined the lab in June 2016 as a post-doctoral research associate, and is working on root transcriptome analyses for both the Trifolium and the Switchgrass projects.  His interests lie in plant adaptation to soil fertility gradients, responses to abiotic stress, and plant-soil-microbe interactions in the rhizosphere. Alan is also conducting experiments for collection of root exudates from switchgrass seedlings, as well as examining the influence of Nitrogen X Microbiome interactions on physiology, performance, and transcriptomics in switchgrass.

Alan completed a B.S. in Biology at Ohio Northern University in 2010, and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 2015, where he focused on root structure and function in relation to fertility gradients.

Chandra Jack

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Chandra Jack got her B.A in Biology at Rice University in 2005. She also received her PhD from Rice in Evolutionary Biology in the Strassmann-Queller lab where she studied cooperation, cheating, and kin recognition in the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum.

She joined the Friesen lab in August 2014 as a BEACON Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow where she is interested in studying tripartite interactions between Medicago, rhizobia, and insects to better understand rapid evolution in invasive plants.

Jeff Norman

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Jeff is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Friesen Lab working on the oxygen-tolerant nitrogenase project and a Co-PI on the EAGER grant on recalcitrant N acquisition by free-living diazotrophs.  Jeff is an ecologist working at the intersection of microbiology and biogeochemistry to understand the ecosystem-level consequences of microbial metabolism in natural systems. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Biology in 2005, then worked as a lab technician in the Pilot Plant at Novozymes Biologicals until returning to Virginia Tech for graduate school in 2008.

Jeff pursued his doctorate in the Barrett biogeochemistry lab, a part of Virginia Tech’s Stream Team/Ecosystem Research Group.  There he used techniques from molecular biology, such as quantitative PCR and amplicon-based pyrosequencing, alongside field-based incubations to measure the diversity, abundance, and function, of ammonia-oxidizing microbes in temperate forest soils.  At Michigan State, Jeff is using a combination of molecular techniques, stable-isotope analyses, and culture-based screens, to study free-living nitrogen fixing microbes in both standard and exotic soil environments (including coal seam fires and volcanoes…).

When he’s not thinking about soil nitrogen cycling, Jeff is more-than-likely playing the banjo.

Check out Jeff’s personal website here