Principal Investigator

Dr. Kevin Garcia

Assistant Professor

I completed my Ph.D. in Integrative Plant Biology at Montpellier II University (France). Following two successive postdoctoral positions at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and at South Dakota State University, I joined the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at NC State University in 2018.

Contact information:  /  3411C Williams Hall



Dr. Arjun Kafle

Postdoctoral Researcher

I got my Master and PhD degrees from South Dakota State University, where I studied tripartite interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and model and crop Legumes. In the Garcia lab, I am deciphering the role of mycorrhizal fungi in plant potassium nutrition through agronomic, physiological, and molecular techniques on Legumes, cereals, trees, and other agronomically important crops as host plants.

Contact information:  / 3104A Williams Hall


Dr. Summi Dutta

Postdoctoral Researcher

I completed my Ph.D. from Birla Institute of technology Mesra, India. I gained exposure to research in identification of plant pathogen and host derived sRNAs using in-silico methodologies and its validation through a set of molecular biology experiments during Ph.D. During my masters (M.Sc.) from Birsa Agricultural University, Kanke, India, I worked on ‘Identification of putative endophytes in finger millet’. In the Garcia lab I am working on optimizing protocols for transforming plant endophytic fungi for the FunCrops project.

Contact information:  / 3416 Williams Hall


Graduate students

Mariela Pérez-Sepúlveda

Ph.D. Student

I completed my B.S. in Agronomy and my M.S. in Soil Science at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez Campus. I studied the effects in the soil physical and chemical properties of lignin as a soil amendment. I joined the Garcia Lab in January 2023. My research focuses on the effect of salinity on nitrogen transformations and nitrogen-fixating bacteria.

Contact information: /  3412 Williams Hall


Garud Shah

M.S. Student

I completed my B.S. Agriculture from Agriculture and Forestry University in Bharatpur, Nepal. I have joined the Garcia and Balint-Kurti labs in February 2021. My research focuses on the effect of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on disease resistance in corn.

Contact information:  /  3416 Williams Hall


Benjamin D. Rose

M.S. Student

I completed my B.S. here in the NCSU Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, where I was introduced to the Garcia Lab and mycorrhiza research as an undergraduate assistant. My M.S. research investigates the relationship between soil nutrient availability and carbon allocation in ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with loblolly pine roots.

Contact information: /  3416 Williams Hall


Alena P. Jones

M.S. Student

I completed my B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I joined the Garcia Lab in May 2022. My M.S. research focuses on the impact of AM fungi on potassium transport and salinity tolerance in 4 soybean cultivars.

Contact information: /  3412 Williams Hall


Maria Isabel Higuita Aguirre

Visiting Scholar

I completed my Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Forestry from the National University of Colombia. In this master I investigated the effect of nutrient deprivation and co-inoculation with beneficial soil microorganisms on the growth and development of tropical forest species in nurseries. I joined the Garcia and Cook labs to support ongoing studies on loblolly pine and to increase my knowledge on ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Contact information: /  3104 Williams Hall


Undergraduate Students

Clancy Larmour

Contact information:





Erin Clark

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Former Postdoctoral Researchers

Gitanjali Nanda Kafle, Post-doc. (2020 - 2021) - Now Scientist at Catalent Pharma Solutions, NC


Former Graduate Students

Danielle R. Cooney, Ph.D. student (2019-2023) - Now Field Scientist at Corteva Agriscience

Hannah E. R. Frank, M.S. (2019 - 2021) - Now Ph.D. Student at Cornell Horticulture, Cornell University


Former Undergraduate Students and Visiting Scientists

Nyssa Ndey-Bongo, REU student (Summer 2022)

Mira Polishook, REU student (Summer 2022)

Marissa Dellinger, undergraduate student (2021 - 2022) - Now M.S. student at NC State University

Jacob Layton, undergraduate student (Summer 2021)

Anne Bonds, REU student (Summer 2019) - Now Biological Technician at U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Mcneil Danilo Farfan Menendez, Visiting Scientist (2019)