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Heather Toler
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Heather Toler
Research Associate
The University of Tennessee
Department of Plant Sciences
Knoxville, Tennessee

B.Sc. - West Virginia University, 2000
Area of emphasis: Biology - Plant Biology

M.Sc. - University of Tennessee, 2003
Area of emphasis: Plant and Soil Science - Plant Physiology


“I’ve always been interested in plants, and took right to plant physiology my freshman year of college. I enjoy working in a discipline that has so many noticeable, applied benefits to society,” says Heather Toler, a Research Associate at the University of Tennessee.

Toler earned a Masters of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science with an emphasis on plant physiology. “My time in graduate school prepared me for the variety of different things that a person can find themselves doing in the agricultural research field. Whether it’s working with statistics and software programs, troubleshooting lab equipment, or implementing greenhouse/field experiments, the University of Tennessee gave me the fundamentals that I needed to succeed.”

Currently, Toler is working in the area of mycorrhizal symbiosis and environmental plant physiology. Her responsibilities include setup and implementation of greenhouse experiments, field work with drought stress physiology experiments in a forest ecosystem at Oak Ridge TN, and root/mycorrhizal laboratory research. “The different aspects of my field keep me enthusiastic and intellectually stimulated. People don’t always consider mycorrhizal symbiosis when they think about how plants respond to their environment, but mycorrhiza are huge part of a plant’s everyday life.”

Since graduating from Ohio State, Pratt has explored many opportunities in the green industry. He first worked as a landscape manager for a large estate and has also explored opening his own landscaping business.

A true horticulturist, Pratt points out the significance of plants to everyone. "Without plants we wouldn't be alive. Plants provide us with the food we live on and the air we breathe. Plants also beautify any setting whether urban or rural." The seasonal nature of his work allows Pratt, "the opportunity to witness and study the complete cycle of many plants from spring flowering to fall leaf drop."

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