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Our Research Themes

1. How can microbial metabolic capabilities be harnessed to correct, or proactively prevent, harm to natural ecosystems?


2. As the Anthropocene progresses, how are we changing the ecology of microbial communities and microbial processes, particularly through altered land use and climate change?

Check out the Research page for more details

Inclusion, Equity and Diversity in the Docherty Lab 

In our lab, we take pride in our actions and commitment to life-long learning about how to create an inclusive environment for everyone to learn, grow, and realize their goals.


1) Through reading, seminars, workshops, and conversations, we continually educate ourselves on how issues of racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination affect us all, particularly regarding STEM education and the field of ecology.

2) We meet everyone in the group where they are in their educational process and take an individualized approach to mentoring.

e.g. See Graduate Student Expectations Document

3) We are committed to reducing barriers to success and doing our part to eliminate systemic discrimination and inequity through open conversation and transparency.  

e.g. See Demystifying the Graduate Application Process Document

4) We are empowered to disrupt biased or discriminatory behavior when we see it and advocate for systemic change.

e.g. Kathryn and all grad students have completed WMU's H.E.R.O.S Bystander Intervention training program.


5) We recruit students from historically excluded minorities in STEM to join our research group.  We celebrate different perspectives from different lived experiences by working in diverse and collaborative teams, and encourage equitable distribution of labor and recognition.

6) We create safe, inclusive and equitable learning environments in the classroom, laboratory, and field. We admit if we make mistakes and are committed to learning from them.

7) We have fun doing our best science by having a strong work ethic while prioritizing mental, physical, and emotional health of all lab group members.

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Spring 2024

  • ​We are hiring a postdoctoral researcher in soil microbial ecology/soil health to work on a USDA-funded project in collaboration with researchers at Kellogg Biological Station. 

       Please see this link for details and for the application portal.                   Applications due by 3/29/24.  


  • We will be hiring a postdoctoral research fellow in soil microbial ecology/soil health soon.  Please check back for more details in mid-February. 

  • Check out the numerous events that are ongoing at WMU this spring through the Climate Emergency: Spring into Action 2024 series.  There is something for everyone who wants to do or learn something new about the climate crisis.   


Fall 2023

  • ​Welcome to undergraduate researchers Kate Miles, Maggie Bryant and Caroline Keller.

  • Update - these positions have been filled. We are recruiting for two graduate students to start in summer or fall 2024 to work on projects examining soil health in prairie strips.

Summer 2023

  • Congrats to PhD student Ellen Badger Hanson who facilitated an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute course on integrating native prairie species into home landscaping

  • Welcome to Angela Solis-Sarat, a WMU honors student who is supported by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation in STEM program

  • Welcome to Judith Tafur, an REU student from the University of Wisconsin who is supported through the 10-week Kellogg Biological Station program

  • Welcome to Sarah Flosky, a WMU honors student supported by an REU supplement award

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