Dr. Zackary Jones
Zack is the Principle Investigator of the WSARE Microbial Ecology Vermicomposting project. He began studying microbiology at the University of California San Diego. After working for a couple of years in molecular diagnostics he decided to pursue studies in environmental microbiology. He was given the opportunity under Dr. Jonathan Sharp at the Colorado school of Mines where he received his PhD in Environmental Engineering. His graduate studies where he primarily used next generation sequencing technology to study the microbial ecology of constructed wetlands to treat large volumes of municipal wastewater for nitrogen and organic pollutants such as pharmaceuticals. During his graduate career, he realized that the bulk of the nitrogen and organic pollutants in waterways are a result of modern unsustainable farming practices. During that time he also became interested in vermicomposting after studying how Cuba coped with lack of chemical fertilized after the fall of the Soviet Union. Zack wants to uses his expertise in microbial ecology to better explain the benefits of sustainable farming practices such as vermicomposting to spread their adoption and mitigate environmental pollution.
Kathy is the Co-PI of the project and will be helping with soil analysis and testing as well as education and outreach. She received her B.S. in Agronomy from Colorado State University. While employed by Colorado State University as a Research Associate, she gave presentations on research projects she was involved in, was a co-author on papers related to composting, and she was part of a team that organized a compost school for large agricultural producers. After accidentally creating ideal vermicomposting conditions on her own farm, realizing that composting worms could transform regular compost to vermicompost, she started her own business, Rocky Mountain Soil Stewardship, selling worms, vermicompost, and compost tea to local farmers for the past 12 years. Doesken also consults with farmers and schools so they can make vermicompost at their own locations.
Dr. Gary Vanzin
Gary is consulting on the project and is our expert in bioinfomatic analysis and will help with DNA sequencing. He received his PhD from the University of Connecticut in Biochemistry, studying plant genetics and molecular pathways of Arabidopsis, followed by a three-year post-doc at the Nation Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden Colorado. Gary worked for Luca Technologies as Director of Research leading a team of scientists to better understand deep subsurface microbial metabolisms. Dr. Vanzin is currently working at the Colorado School of Mines as a Research Professor and data science consultant.