My name is Liana T. Burghardt and I am an evolutionary ecologist broadly interested in how the abiotic and biotic environment shapes the evolution of organisms (primarily plants and microbes). Currently, I am a post doc at the University of Minnesota in the lab of Peter Tiffin. Formerly, I was a graduate student at Duke University in the lab of Kathleen Donohue and a postbac in Johanna Schmitt’s lab. Feel free to explore this website to get a feeling for the questions that fascinate me and the projects that my collaborators and I have undertaken to address these questions. If you would like more information or are interested in collaborating, feel free to contact me at: liana.burghardt at gmail dot com
A Little More About Me….
I grew up in Knoxville, TN with my twin sister Karin. She is currently a Smithson Fellow at SERC and did her Phd examining the effect of plant-insect interactions on nutrient cycling in the Schmitz lab at Yale (check out her website!). Our interest in plants and nature was fostered by both our parents and by the back drop of the trails and streams of the nearby Smoky Mountains. My interest in plants was apparent by the age of 10 when I became the defacto family gardener– meaning I transplanted things willy nilly around the yard and woods. This fascination continued and in high school I spent many happy hours volunteering in the native plant garden at Ijam’s nature center.
For college I was fortunate to attend Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota where I had the privilege of being taught by exceptional teachers, scientists, and naturalists such as Mark McKone and Susan Singer. I also spent a summer working in a plant development lab studying the genetics of the Medicago trunctuala/rhizobia symbiosis. Aside from academics, I played Ultimate frisbee for the college team SYZYGY which was a formative experience. While we were successful as a team, reaching nationals every year I was a member, this success was transient. The lasting lessons were the ones related to teamwork, communication, and perseverance. Through these women I learned to enjoy the process as much as the outcome. This focus on the process and the idea that we can do more together than we can separately has shaped my life today.
After college I spent several years at Brown University as a post-bac in the amazing lab of Johanna Schmitt (now at Davis) studying how flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana responds to various environmental factors including temperatures that fluctuate through the day. While there I also coached the women’s ultimate B team at Brown.
In 2009, I joined the unique graduate community in the Biology Department at Duke University (and specifically the Donohue Lab) and moved to Durham, NC. In addition to thinking about my research, I spend lots of time in my garden. I loved living in Durham. If you ever visit be sure to check out the Durham farmer’s market, Eno river trails,and cozy.