Laura Mason

Laura Mason

Laura Mason

Graduate Student, School of Environment & Natural Resources

061A Parker Food Sci & Tech Bldg
2015 Fyffe Rd
Columbus, OH 43210

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Areas of Expertise

  • Microbial community ecology
  • Ecosystems ecology
  • Climate smart agriculture


  • M.S. Environmental & Plant Biology, Ohio University, 2018
  • B.S. Microbiology, The Ohio State University, 2014
  • B.S. Evolution & Ecology, The Ohio State University, 2014

Laura is currently a PhD student in the School of Environment & Natural Resource, co-advised by Dr. Richard Dick (SENR) and Dr. Virginia Rich microbiology. Her research takes place in Senegal, a country in the Sahel region of West Africa. This region faces more extreme effects of climate change including a rapidly changing climate and increase incidence of growing-season drought. However, intercropping the cash crop millet with the native woody shrub Guiera senegalensis mitigates the impacts of drought, allowing for continued growth and high yields, even during low-water periods. Research in this region has been conducted for nearly 20 years, and involves scientists, farmers, engineers, and students from the U.S. and Senegal. Her research group seeks to better understand this relationship, and her job in particular is to investigate the interactions between millet and Guiera through a microbial lens. Laura's research focuses on the molecular processes by which a beneficial microbial community, naturally harbored by Guiera, can improve drought response in the inter-cropped millet plants. This research scales from genes to ecosystem responses to fill a knowledge gap in how microbially mediated processes can improve agro-ecosystem function under climate change. Laura joined the research group as a PhD student in Fall of 2018, and she plans to graduate in Spring 2022. In the summer of 2018, she graduated from Ohio University with a Masters of Science in Environmental & Plant Biology, advised by Dr. Jared DeForest. In 2014, she graduated with a BS in Microbiology and Evolution & Ecology from Ohio State University, where she was involved in several research projects in the Department of Microbiolgy, the Department of Evolution, Ecology, & Organismal Biology, and the School of Natural Resource. Her research in the School of Natural Resource also took place under Dr. Richard Dick, and she traveled to Senegal to work on this project for the first time in 2013. Laura is excited to be part of this research group again and looking forward to their results. 

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