Jorge Vivanco, associate professor and director of the Center for Rhizosphere Biology in Colorado State University’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, has been named a Guggenheim fellow.
Guggenheim fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. Vivanco’s research interests focus on rhizosphere (root zone) community interactions and how plants and microbes interact in the root level at different levels of complexity. He also studies root exudation and the biology and biochemistry of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana and invasive weeds. One of the main goals of the Center for Rhizosphere Biology is to study how plants interact with each other, the soil and soil microbes.
Vivanco, a native of Peru, will return to the Tambopata National Reserve in southern Amazonian Peru, one of the most biodiverse areas in the world, for six months to conduct a comprehensive review of biochemical interactions in the rain forest and to survey the soil microbial diversity that most likely supports above-ground biodiversity of plants. Vivanco and his students visited the reserve for initial research in 2006 to assess the possibility of using state-of-the-art biochemistry tools to understand organism interactions in a biodiversity-rich area. In August 2007, he will take to Tambopata a small group of Colorado State students to conduct short research internships with students whom have taken his medicinal plants class.
"I want to document the unseen biodiversity of microbes and chemicals and how it interacts with the visible biodiversity of plants," Vivanco said, adding that he hopes the findings will create a new area of research in his lab at Colorado State. "I’m interested in the things I can find once I am down there."
Vivanco has also been awarded a Fulbright scholarship for his upcoming work in Tambopata as well as to lecture at several Peruvian universities. In May 2008, Vivanco will conduct a workshop on tropical chemical biology supported by the Pan-American Study Institute program of the National Science Foundation that will bring together tropical ecologists, conservationists, biochemists and chemical ecologists from the United States and South America to brainstorm about ideas and research opportunities. Post-docs and advanced graduate students from the United States and from South America also will be invited.
For more information about Colorado State’s Center for Rhizosphere Biology, visit online at http://crb.colostate.edu/home/