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Tanya Cheek
Tanya Cheek

I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in sustainable agriculture and environmental science from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. After earning my degree, I conducted sustainable agriculture research for Washington State University Research and Extension and worked at a soil microbiology laboratory in Corvallis, Oregon, where I became interested in the effects of genetically modified crops on soil organisms. For my dissertation research at PSU, I am using genetically modified Bt maize to investigate the effects of insect-resistant Bt plants on the colonization ability, abundance, and diversity of symbiotic arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in the rhizosphere. Mycorrhizal fungi are symbiotic soil organisms that form mutualistic relationships with plant roots, stimulating plant growth and helping to protect plants from nutrient stress, drought, and pathogens. 

In addition to my research, I have taught Principles of Biology, Microbiology, Genes and Society, and the Research & Society Senior Capstone. I have received numerous fellowships, scholarships, and awards from institutions that include the Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, Sigma Xi, Graduate Women in Science, the Lindbergh Foundation, the Ecological Society of America, and the Botanical Society of America. I was also the recipient of the PSU Miller Sustainability Grant. Currently I am co-editing a book entitled ‘Microbial Ecology in Sustainable Agroecosystems’ and preparing original research for publication in scientific journals. While studying at PSU I have been active in the Biology Graduate Student Association and the Biology Investigations and Outreach program where I have been a mentor for many undergraduate and high school interns.

Because of the many rewarding experiences I’ve had here in the Biology Department, and the joy that comes from discovery through research, I have decided to pursue a career in academia. After receiving my PhD, I plan to pursue a position in a micro/molecular biology lab and to prepare for becoming a university professor in the Biological Sciences.