Ethan Bass


I'm a PhD candidate in the Kessler Lab at Cornell University, where I study the ecology and evolution of root defenses and their cascading effects on plant interactions and community assembly. I am especially interested in understanding how chemically-mediated interactions in the rhizosphere contribute to the success of competitively dominant plant species like tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima). I also seek to understand how relationships with below-ground mutualists such as mycorrhizae shape the evolution of plant defenses.

I'm also interested in applications of these concepts to the development of more sustainable agricultural practices (e.g. functional intercropping to improve soil health). Unlike just about any crop species, tall goldenrod is able to dominate recently abandoned agricultural fields (AKA Northeastern "old-field" communities) for decades without any anthropogenic inputs or interventions. I hope that understanding this process and its underlying mechanisms can contribute to the development of new strategies to sustainably increase agricultural productivity. I've also been fortunate enough to study the push-pull agricultural intercropping technology developed at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), investigating how plant-soil feedbacks may contribute to the remarkable efficacy of this technique.

I have developed several open-source tools for analyzing chemical data in R. Most notably, chromConverter is a utility for parsing HPLC and FID chromatograms from various proprietary file formats and chromatographR provides a flexible workflow for reproducibly analyzing these data in R. Please see the software page for further information about these projects.