Department of Plant Biology & Pathology
Foran Hall/ Cook Campus
59 Dudley Rd.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Office: Room 296C Foran Hall, 848-932-6223
Lab: Room 297 Foran Hall, 848-932-6235
Joan W. Bennett has been Professor II of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers University since 2006. Prior to coming to Rutgers, she was on the faculty at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, for over thirty years. The Bennett laboratory studies the genetics and physiology of filamentous fungi. In addition to mycotoxins and secondary metabolites, the focus is on the volatile organic compounds emitted by fungi. These low molecular weight compounds are responsible for the familiar odors associated with the growth of molds and mushrooms. Some of them function as semiochemicals for insects while others serve as developmental signals for fungi. The Bennett lab has tested individual fungal VOCs in model systems, with the intent of providing a physiological basis for the hypothesis that volatile mold metabolites might be involved in “sick building syndrome.” For example, 1-octen-3-ol (“mushroom alcohol”) functions as a neurotoxin in Drosophila melanogaster and causes growth retardation in Arabidopsis thaliana. In other studies, we have demonstrated that living cultures of Trichoderma, a known biocontrol fungus, can enhance plant growth in the absence of physical contact between the plant and the fungus. In addition, we are investigating the potential use of fungi and their volatiles in bioenergy research. Dr. Bennett also has an active interest in fungal genomics and has been involved in genome projects for Aspergillus flavus, A. fumigatus and A. oryzae.
Dr. Bennett is Associate Vice President for the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics (“SciWomen”), charged with promoting the welfare of women in science, engineering, mathematics and the health professions across the three campuses of Rutgers University at Camden, New Brunswick and Newark.
In addition to being a past Editor-in-Chief of Mycologia, Professor Bennett was a past Vice President of the British Mycological Society and the International Union of Microbiological Societies; as well as past President of the American Society for Microbiology and the Society for Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005.
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Lab Members and Associates
- Visiting Scientists
- Dr. Prakash Masurekar
- Dr. Avishay Stark
- Dr. Arati Inamdar
- Dr. Sally Padhi
- Richard Hung
- Samantha Lee
- Shannon Morath
- Dr. Natalie Batmanian, Director, Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics
- Yvonne Gonzalez, Program Manager, Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics
- Jessica L. Shea, Business Manager, Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics
- Carey Murray, Program Coordinator, Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics
- Neng Wang, Grant Administrative Assistant, Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics
- Amy Kim, Administrative Assistant, Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering & Mathematics
Dr. Joan W. Bennett joined the department in 2006; she also serves as Associate VP for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.