PhD, Soils and Biogeochemistry, UC Davis
Rachel Danielson is a soil biogeochemist and microbial ecologist aiming to improve the sustainability of our food system through a better understanding of plant-microbe interactions and leveraging microbes for ‘farmless’ cultivation of alternative proteins such as mycelial meats. Danielson sees a growing need for accountability in the environmental impact of food- and agri-tech: that is, backing innovations that are not just economically viable, but also sustainably scalable, with a net positive outcome for climate change mitigation and natural resource conservation.
As a UC Davis doctoral candidate in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, working under Dr. Jorge Rodrigues, Danielson studies how conversion of tropical forest to cattle pasture in the Amazon Basin impacts the function and diversity of root-associated nitrogen fixing bacteria, whose activity is crucial in providing a sustainable quantity of nitrogen to these unfertilized landscapes. Danielson’s collective training in environmental microbiology, agricultural science, and biotechnology throughout graduate school have motivated her to collaborate and assist in the acceleration of discoveries at the nexus of food and health.