Ashton Leo (SBAR Fellow) studies the influence of land disturbance on soilborne seed-associated microbial communities in semi-arid deserts of the southwest United States. He is especially interested in the application of these microbes to enhance crop plant growth and yield under environmental stresses such as drought and heat for sustainable agriculture and in developing microbial ecology learning modules to engage underrepresented groups in scientific inquiry and discovery. He received his B.S. in Plant Sciences from the University of Arizona (UA) in 2017. His research continues in the UA Plant Pathology program with a focus on sustainable agriculture, microbial diversity, renewable fuels, and outreach.