Michelle Tampa Flores

Undergraduate Research in Soil Health and Agroecology

This project asks, how can agriculture work for both people and in the environment? Through field, greenhouse, and lab work, this research explores how diversified farming practices influence soil health, particularly arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and wild bee communities. In the field, my graduate student mentor and I are working with small-scale farmers of color embedded in the monocultural landscape of Californias San Joaquin Valley and investigating how their farming practices influence soil and pollinator health. In the greenhouse, we are conducting greenhouse experiments to determine the mechanistic connection between AMF and bees. In the lab, we are processing samples collected from the field and greenhouse to determine microbial composition of soil samples using molecular methods and nutrient properties of soil and plant samples.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you to the Johnson Fund for the opportunity to gain experience in research in sustainable agriculture and microbial communities. The support provided through the SURF-SMART program helped me learn about graduate studies , research logistics, and develop my professional goals for the future. My interest in how agriculture impacts minority communities, food security and food sovereignty tied into my project exploration. I explored topics such as valley fever and plant diseases that impact crop yield. With the support and guidance of my mentor, Aidee Guzman, I was able to combine my interest in agriculture and diseases. For the summer, I worked on a project that looked at how biodiversity, with a focus on AMF, impacts plant pathogen presence for monoculture and polyculture farmtypes. During this summer, I learned how to use R to analyze my data and communicate my results to the general public. The combined efforts of the Johnson Fund, SURF -SMART staff, and mentorship from Aidee Guzman helped me develop new technical skills and have a positive research experience within a community of talented scholars.
  • Major: Microbial Biology
  • Sponsor: Johnson Fund
  • Mentor: Aidee Guzman