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School of Biological Sciences Stephanie Porter Lab



Stephanie is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at WSUV. As a research scientist at the University of California, Riverside, and postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, she studied plant-microbe co-invasion biology, patterns of natural selection on cooperation between legumes and rhizobium bacteria, and positive plant-soil feedbacks. Stephanie completed her Ph.D. dissertation on environmental adaptation in the legume-rhizobium symbiosis at the University of California, Davis.

CAMILLE WENDLANDT, Ph.D. (Summer 2019 – Present)

Camille Wendlandt is a postdoctoral researcher interested in the evolutionary ecology of the legume-rhizobia symbiosis. She received a PhD in Plant Biology from the University of California, Riverside in 2019, where she studied the effects of soil nitrogen enrichment on legume traits that enforce cooperation by rhizobia (see here and here). In the Porter Lab, she is investigating how legume interactions with rhizobia change as plants invade new habitats (see here) or become domesticated by humans. Outside of the lab, Camille enjoys running, visiting the farmer’s market, and spinning yarn.

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NIALL MILLAR, BS (Fall 2017 – Present) 

Niall is a fifth-year Plant Biology Ph.D. candidate working on the evolutionary ecology of plants, microbes, and insects. In particular, he is interested in how domestication and environmental stress impact the outcomes of symbiosis. Niall graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Dundee and conducted research in Alison Bennett’s lab at the James Hutton Institute. Click here to read about his research on symbionts and stress, and plant-insect-symbiont interactions. Outside the lab, Niall enjoys movies, games, hiking, and painting miniatures.

ANGELIQUA MONTOYA, BS (Fall 2016 – Present)

Angeliqua Montoya is a 4th year PhD candidate studying the evolutionary genetics of nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria that can form a symbiosis with leguminous plants. More specifically she’s interested in how genetic variation in the bacterial symbionts impacts the evolution of host discrimination mechanisms, and understanding whether bacterial lineages differ in the loss, gain or transmissibility of the large region of mobile genes (the symbiosis island) that house cooperation traits in Mesorhizobium. In her free time she enjoys reading dark novels, playing ukulele and singing.

ZOE WILSON, BS (Summer 2021 – Present)

Zoë is a second year MSc student studying the genetics and phylogenetics of plant-microbe interactions. She is particularly interested in how symbiosis traits in legumes have changed during domestication and under modern agricultural practices. Zoë earned her B.S. in Microbiology and a minor in Chemistry at the University of Idaho (2021) while conducting research on viral fitness in the Wichman/Miller lab there. Outside of school, she is passionate about the Women in Science Society, and in her free time enjoys exploring nature, reading, and cooking.

BRITTANY LETENDRE, BA (Summer 2021 – Present)

Brittany is a MSc student studying Plant Biology in the Porter lab and is currently researching the effects of fire frequency on plant-microbe interactions and forest regeneration. Brittany’s interest in forest ecology and symbiosis stem from her background working for the United States Forest Service, as well as from her time leading multi-week wilderness courses as adjunct faculty for the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at Colorado Mountain College. Brittany earned her BA in Sustainability Studies from Colorado Mountain College and was awarded a two-year Rocky Mountain Land Management Fellowship (2017-2019) during her time as an undergraduate student. When Brittany isn’t in the greenhouse with her experiment she can generally be found in her personal garden, climbing with her husband, or knitting.


Chris is an undergraduate at WSUV majoring in Biology and minoring in chemistry, mathematics and molecular sciences. His academic interests include genetics, ecology, and evolutionary biology. In his free time though, he is a bit of an outdoorsman. Starting in the fall of 2018, Chris helped with Niall’s research on how domestication and environmental stress may degrade symbiotic relationships between plants and soil bacteria. He now lends his hand in essentially every experiment going on in the lab.

RANDI RICHARDS (Summer 2020 – Present)

Randi  is a senior undergraduate student who joined the Porter lab in summer 2020. She has been working on testing plant microbial symbiont’s tolerance to environmental stressors such as UV radiation and heavy metal exposure. Randi will graduate in spring 2022 with her B.S. in Biology and minors in Molecular Biology and Environmental Science. She hopes to continue microbiology research in graduate school in a few years.

TULLEE STANFORD (Fall 2021 – Present)

Tullee Stanford is a Senior at WSU, he is majoring in Biology and minoring in environmental science. He currently assists Angeliqua Montoya in research geared towards understanding how specific genes affect rhizobias’ ability to form mutualism with plants and how those genes transfer in different systems. After graduation, Tullee plans to work in habitat restoration design and implementation, but plans to join a graduate program in biology and plant biology in a few years. Outside of school and volunteering in the lab, Tullee enjoys working in his native greenhouse,  sculpting, and birding.

BROOKE PETERSON (Fall 2021 – Present)

Hello! My name is Brooke Petersen and I am a current senior at WSUV majoring in biology with a minor in Japanese. After graduating I am hoping to complete a study abroad program and eventually apply for medical school. Outside of helping with the fire-soil microbe lab I enjoy a good book or testing out new art supplies!

HUGO VASCONCELOS (Fall 2021 – Present)

Hi! My name is Hugo Vasconcelos and I am a 3rd year international student majoring in Environmental Science. I am from Portugal/Macau and have been studying at WSU’s Vancouver campus since Fall 2021. When not there, I enjoy long hikes, watching documentaries, reading non-fiction, and head-bobbing to funk.

BETHANIE DAVIS (Fall 2021 – Present)

Hello! My name’s Bethanie Davis, I’m an earth and environmental science major planning on practicing environmental law and policy upon graduating. I love journalism, fiction books, and working with the plants in the greenhouse!



Former Lab Members

ZOIE LOPEZ, MS (Fall 2014 – Fall 2019)

Zoie earned a Masters’s degree in Plant Biology studying the evolutionary and ecological shifts in the legume-rhizobium symbiosis during biological invasions. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biological Science from the University of California, Davis. As an undergraduate, she participated in research looking at climate-driven genetic variation between populations of an alpine wildflower, investigated the genetic basis of stress tolerance in Arabidopsis, and completed a summer REU project at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory looking at root trait variation between populations of a native wildflower along an elevation/climate gradient. After graduating she became involved in the legume-rhizobium study system as Dr. Porter’s research technician at UC Riverside before moving up to Washington to continue work at WSU Vancouver. Zoie is broadly interested in how microbial mutualists impact biological invasions, how environmental factors influence trait expression, and how mutualistic associations influence hosts response to climate, biotic, and abiotic stress. She is currently traveling through Europe on a great and daring adventure.

MILES ROBERTS (Fall 2017 – Spring 2020)

Miles is a senior undergraduate at WSUV studying biology, chemistry, and mathematics. He works as a lab technician, participating in a project to relate the adaptations of microbial symbionts to their ecological distribution. Miles measures local adaptation of legume-associating nitrogen-fixing bacteria to high-stress environments. He aspires to later earn a P.h.D. in genetics and become a plant breeder. Besides “science-ing”, Miles enjoys cooking, reading, learning new things, and caring for animals.


PAIGE ROBERTS (Fall 2019 – Fall 2021)

Paige is a senior undergraduate Biology major at WSUV. Her interests include aquatic ecology and zoology with respect to conservation, which she plans on pursuing a graduate degree in. Outside of school, she volunteers with Friends of Trees to plant native tree species around the Portland/Vancouver area. In her free time, Paige enjoys hiking, backpacking, traveling, animal care, and everything food-related.

EMMA CRIPPEN (Fall 2019 – Spring 2020)

Emma is a senior undergraduate majoring in Environmental Science at WSUV. She is currently involved in managing the lab’s extensive library of wild legume seeds, providing fuel for many experiments to come. During this process, she measures many plant traits and investigates how these traits help wild legumes adapt to different soil conditions. Her other academic interests include climate change; she hosts a podcast called EnviroMENTAL (check it out!). Outside of school, Emma enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking, backpacking, kayaking, and gardening. When not outside though, she can be found inside with a pot of tea.

MACKENZIE HAVERLACK (Fall 2018 – Spring 2020)

MacKenzie (Mac) is a senior undergraduate majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. She is involved in managing the lab’s library of wild legume seeds and investigates how the life cycles of plants in this library vary between species and soil types. Her ultimate goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in biochemistry and research a cure for cancer! In her free time, she enjoys drawing, playing the piano, keeping reptiles, and writing the occasional fantasy adventure novel.

JULIANNE BLAKE (Fall 2019 – Spring 2020)

Julianne is an undergraduate environmental science major who aspires for a career in habitat restoration and climate change mitigation. In the lab, she focuses on measuring the heavy-metal tolerance of soil bacteria. Outside of the lab, she loves to hike, pet all the animals, and travel.

ETHAN GALLEGOS (Spring 2020 – Summer 2020)

Ethan is a senior undergraduate at WSUV studying Environmental Science and American Indian studies. He helps with culturing bacteria in the laboratory and with plant propagation in the greenhouse. Before coming to WSUV, Ethan worked on the Clark College Boschma farms project where he focused on reintroducing Salmonids to the McCormick and Anderson creek through habitat restoration. He hopes to later earn a P.h.D. in conservation biology or microbial biology and then gain a career in Salmon Habitat restoration. Outside of school, Ethan enjoys gardening, birdwatching, playing guitar, and hanging out with his two dogs Hank and Norah.

NATHAN CROOKS (Spring 2020 – Fall 2020)

Nathan is a Sophomore at WSUV pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science. He plans to later pursue a Ph.D. in Environmental Science with an emphasis on habitat science and ecology. Nathan interns both in the laboratory and greenhouse, caring for plants and helping prepare experiments. Outside of class, Nathan enjoys backpacking, kayaking and playing music.


KYLE NGUYEN, BS (Fall 2017 – Summer 2019)

Kyle earned his Bachelor’s degree in biology at WSUV. He contributed to projects researching the evolution of interspecific cooperation during biological invasions. Kyle took a lead role in investigating the potential of a parasitic gene found in certain strains of rhizobia to “cheat” their legume hosts. He also helped in a second project examining the host fitness effects of multiple microbial mutualists. He is now attending graduate school at Oregon State University to study how mammals maintain safe levels of oxidative stress by investigating the Nrf2 protein, a transcription factor that regulates our antioxidant response genes. In his free time, Kyle enjoys working out and practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

KATHLEEN IBARRETA, BS (Fall 2017 – Spring 2019)

Kathleen studied Biology with a minor in Fine Arts and Anthropology. Since graduation, she has traveled around Europe and will be applying to the WSU-Spokane College of Pharmacy. Her interests included microbiology and organismal evolution. In her free time, she enjoyed volunteering at the local primate sanctuary. She liked to read, draw, play the piano and the ukulele. She was an active member of the Asian Pacific Islander Club and even became the Vice-President one year. She plans to get her master’s degree and work in research someday.

JORDAN SCHINKE, BS (Fall 2017 – Summer 2019)

Jordan was an undergraduate biology student and intern in the Porter Lab. He was interested in plant genetics and ecology, especially with respect to agriculture and biological invasions. Working in the Porter lab motivated him to pursue a career in science. He is currently working as a Toxicology and DNA Technologist providing diagnostic tests for patients at a local clinical testing company. He plans to attend a graduate program in genetics or immunology and eventually conduct clinical trials for cancer research.

CAMERON GREEN, BS (Fall 2017 – Fall 2018)

Cameron pursued a BS in Biology with a minor in Microbiology and Psychology at WSUV. He was fascinated by microbiology and the study of infectious diseases. His career goals were to work for the state department or CDC as an infectious disease specialist.

KATELYN SEDIG (Fall 2018 – Spring 2019)

Katelyn was a junior majoring in Biology. She was interested in gene editing, pesticides, and biomedical research. She aspired to do research on alleviating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Aside from research, she also likes to sing and create children’s books.

CIERAH ALFERNESS, BS (Fall 2018 – Spring 2019)

Cierah was a senior at WSU Vancouver pursuing a B.S in Environmental Science with a minor in Biology. She was interested in studying various biogeochemical processes and their effects on ecological communities. She was also interested in soil science. Cierah helped Niall with his greenhouse experiment investigating the effects of domestication and environmental stress on symbiotic relationships. Cierah planned to apply to graduate school.


Hafa adai and hello! My name is Johanna Taimanao Inoke, and I was a senior here at Washington State University Vancouver. I am working to receive a B.S. in Biology. After graduating, I wish to teach back home on the beautiful island of Saipan. Also, I hope to work with the researchers there to learn more about the land I call home. I love spending time with family and friends and learning new things.


CHRISTIAN LOVE, BS (Fall 2018 – Spring 2019)

Christian studied biology at WSUV and graduated in Spring 2019. He collected data for a meta-analysis where we examined the fitness effects of multiple microbial symbionts on one host. He has now moved to Boston, MA and is pursuing a Masters degree at Boston University in Applied Biostatistics.

EMILY HELLIWELL, PhD (Spring 2017 – Summer 2018)

Emily Helliwell was a postdoctoral research assistant in the Porter lab.  She currently works as a senior scientist at Phytelligence, an ag-tech company in Portland, OR. She has a B.A. in Integrative Biology from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, an M.Sc. in Botany and Plant Pathology from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Pennsylvania State University.  She came to WSUV after working in the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing at Oregon State University.  Her interests are in host-microbe interactions, focusing on the various mechanisms that result in pathogenic and mutualistic outcomes.

JOSHUA FABER-HAMMOND, MS (Fall 2015 – Summer 2018)

Josh is a bioinformatician studying the comparative genetics of invasive plants and their symbiotic soil bacteria. He is currently a bioinformatician for the Renn Lab at Reed College. Josh received his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from The University of Vermont in 2006, and completed his Masters’s in Environmental Science at WSUV with a focus on evolutionary genetics in 2012. He has worked in multiple labs between Portland State University and WSUV studying genetics of Zebrafish, Salmon, Midshipman fish, humans, and bacterial species.

MARK SWENSON (Fall 2017 – Fall 2018)

Mark is a South Dakota native and a senior at WSUV majoring in Biology. His fields of interest include plant biology, ecology, mutualistic relationships, and evolution. In his free time, Mark is an avid hiker, backpacker, gardener, chef, baker, and painter. His internship with the Porter lab was his first exposure to a research lab, and he enjoyed helping grad students in the greenhouse with their research projects.  

Samantha is an undergraduate majoring in Biology at Lewis and Clark University. In the Porter lab, she worked on how domestication affects cooperation between plants and their beneficial microbes. Thanks for making the trek Samantha!

ALEXANDER SHI (Summer 2017 – Spring 2018)

Alex graduated from WSU Vancouver with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. After graduating at WSUV he was accepted into the Masters of Public Health program at Oregon Health and Science University. He was an easy-going, enthusiastic member of the lab. In his free time, he loves to exercise and compose music.

CYNTHIA SACKOS, BS (Spring 2016 – Spring 2017)

Cynthia graduated from WSUV where she earned her BS in Biology and an Environmental Science minor. She worked as a research technical assistant in the Porter Lab and upon graduation got a job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Plant Scientist. During the summer of 2016, she completed an undergraduate research project as part of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program and presented her findings at the REU Symposium.  Cynthia intends to go on to pursue a graduate degree in Plant Biology. Cynthia currently works as a technician at the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos.


Amanda was a research technologist in the Porter Lab. She currently works as a plant pathologist at Bayer. Her work in the Porter Lab explored the plasticity of host plant responses to soil nitrogen. She has a background in plant breeding and plant pathology and has worked in the vegetable seed industry for several years. Amanda now works for Bayer.

DANAKA ROSS, BS (Spring 2016 – Spring 2017)

Danaka was a research technician in the Porter lab. She graduated from WSUV Spring 2016, successfully earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She plans on returning to school for a masters in education before starting a teaching career.

KELSEY FENN (Summer 2016)

Kelsey joined the Porter Lab as a summer REU student from Brown University. She focused on the diversity among rhizobia associated with Lupin plants growing in volcanic soils. She participated in fieldwork collecting plant samples at Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams. She also worked in the lab extracting and amplifying rhizobia DNA from root nodules for sequencing.

TOBIAS (TOBY) PIZOT (Summer 2016)

Toby was an intern in the Porter Lab the summer before his senior year at Camas High School in 2016. He worked on calculating specific leaf area (SLA) for native and invaded Burr Clover from a common garden greenhouse experiment. He was part of the MST program at Camas High School and he is interested in environmental science.