University Distinguished Professor Leach studies plant-microbe interactions with the ultimate goal of improving disease resistance and sustainable crop production.
Research in the Leach group focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of plant disease susceptibility and resistance, with a particular interest in quantitative traits for susceptibility and resistance. Leach studies how climate changes impact plant disease caused by microbial pathogens, primarily studying rice and interactions with bacterial pathogens, and how the Russian wheat aphid microbiome influences the insects’ aggressiveness to plants. Her group also develops molecular diagnostics for microbial pathogens.
Leach was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2021.
Leach earned her B.S. and M.S. in microbiology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She also serves as the associate dean for research in the College of Natural Sciences.