Ohio University

Search within:

Environmental and Plant Biology

The program is recommended for the student interested in an independent and flexible environment, one designed to meet individual interests and needs. Opportunities for in-depth investigation of contemporary approaches to molecular, organismal, and environmental analyses provide a stimulating preparation for graduate study and career development. These cover a broad range, from teaching and research in schools and universities through research and development in a commercial environment to ecological work with federal and state agencies or private organizations.

Program Overview

All of the beginning curricula within the Environmental and Plant Biology Tutorial Program are likely to have a common base, with variations in content and emphasis coming in the more advanced tutorials, which are designed to suit the individual student. A typical schedule is outlined below.

Requirements outside plant biology are, for the most part, identified by course number. Students who wish to take alternate courses to satisfy the requirements may substitute, for example, a different organic chemistry or physics sequence for those listed. Tutorial students are expected to acquire proficiency in fundamental areas of chemistry, mathematics, physics, and biological sciences; conventional courses meet the department's outside requirements in those fields.

Honors Tutorial College students must fulfill the Ohio University English Composition requirements but are otherwise exempt from General Education requirements. Tutorial students may take non-major courses in addition to their major requirements, if they wish to pursue other interests while completing their undergraduate degree program.

Advanced Tutorials

In the second and later years, individually designed tutorials cover more specific aspects of plant biology, environmental biology, or cell and molecular biology. These tutorials, which cover in depth some selected aspects of a chosen area, may take the form of laboratory or field projects as well as the discussion format.

Areas available include the morphology of vascular and non-vascular plants, systematics, including molecular systematics, ecology, physiology, cell biology and biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, population genetics and evolution. In addition, students may acquire a broad perspective of these areas by attending undergraduate or graduate classes offered by the Environmental and Plant Biology Department.

There is sufficient time in the program for students to widen their experience by taking outside courses, e.g., biochemistry, economics, geography, geology, biological sciences, which the tutor and student may feel useful in achieving a particular goal.

Students have access to the many study abroad opportunities at Ohio University. Three students from this department have each spent a year as exchange students at the University of Wales. Since its introduction in 2000, students have also participated in the Global Studies in Plant Biology program in which faculty have led expeditions to Bolivia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Thailand, and Brazil.


Applicants are selected on the basis of superior academic ability and the potential for self-motivated undergraduate study and research. Applications are due November 15.

Director of Studies

Jared DeForest

Dr. Jared DeForest
Department of Environmental and Plant Biology
419 Porter Hall
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
(740) 593-0742


Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2004


  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Plant-Microbe-Soil Interactions
  • Coupled Biogeochemical Cycling

My research goals are to improve our predictive understanding of how the physical environment alters the structure and function of ecosystems, either natural or anthropogenic. Most of my research involves investigating how soil microbes mediating the cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus and its impact on tree productivity based on mycorrhizal associations. One decade-long project involves understanding the role of elevated soil pH and/or phosphorus influencing soil microbial functional capacity and forest carbon sequestration. My research draws from soil science, ecosystem ecology, microbial ecology, and forestry.


  • PBIO. 4/5380: Soils & Ecosystems (Fall)
  • PBIO 2480: Dendrology (Fall)
  • PBIO 2090: Plant Ecology (Spring)

Departmental Service

  • HTC Director of Studies
  • Honors Program Coordinator
  • Graduate Chair

Professional Service

Selected References

DeForest, J.L. and Moorhead D.L. (2020) Effects of elevated pH and phosphorus fertilizer on the ecoenzymatic stoichiometry of organic and mineral soils in an acidic mixed mesophytic deciduous forest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry.

Dove, N.C., Arogyaswamy, K., Billings, S.A., Bothoff, J.K., Carey, C.J., Cisco, C., DeForest, J. L., Fairbanks, D., Fierer, N., Kaye, J.P., Lohse, K. A., Maltz, M.R., Mayora, E., Pett-Ridge, J., Yang, W.H., Hart, S.C., Aronson, E.L. (2020) Continental-scale patterns of extracellular enzyme activity in the subsoil: an overlooked reservoir of microbial activity. Environmental Research Letters.

Mason, L.M., Eagar, A., Patel, P., Blackwood, C.B., DeForest, J.L., 2020. Potential microbial bioindicators of phosphorus mining in a temperate deciduous forest. Journal of Applied Microbiology.

DeForest, J.L. and Otuya, R.K. (2020). Soil nitrification increases with elevated phosphorus or soil pH in an acidic mixed mesophytic deciduous forest. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 142: 107716.

DeForest, J.L., and Snell, R.S. (2020). Tree growth response to shifting soil nutrient economy depends on mycorrhizal associations. New Phytologist, 225:2557-2566.

DeForest, J.L. (2019). Chronic phosphorus enrichment and elevated pH suppresses Quercus spp. leaf litter decomposition in a temperate forest. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 135:206-212.

Lavely, E. K., Zhang, Adams, T. S., Bryla, D., DeForest, J.L., Marini, R. P., Crassweller, R., Eissenstat, D. M. (2018). Root and mycorrhizal fungal foraging responses to fruit removal in apple trees. Plant and Soil, 431(1-2): 401-416. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-018-3773-8

Wang, Y., Li, C., Tu, C., Hoyt, G. D., DeForest, J.L., Hu, S. (2017). Long-term no-tillage and organic input management enhanced the diversity and stability of soil microbial community. Science of The Total Environment, 609, 341–347.

Winings, J. H., Yin, X., Agyin-Birikorang, S., Singh, U., Sanabria, J., Savoy, H. J., Allen, F. L., Saxton, A. M., DeForest, J.L. (2016). Changes of soil microbial population and structure under short-term application of an organically enhanced nitrogen fertilizer. Soil Science, 181(11/12), 494-502.

Cheng, L., Chen, W., Adams, T. S., Wei, X., Li, L., McCormack, M. L., DeForest, J.L., Koide, R. T., Eissenstat, D. M. (2016). Mycorrhizal fungi and roots are complementary in foraging within nutrient patches. Ecology, 97(10), 2815–2823.

Chen, W., Koide, R. T., Adams, T. S., DeForest, J.L., Cheng, L., & Eissenstat, D. M. (2016). Root morphology and mycorrhizal symbioses together shape nutrient foraging strategies of temperate trees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(31), 8741-8746.

DeForest, J.L., Drerup, S. A., Vis-Chiasson, M. (2016). Using fatty acids to fingerprint biofilm communities: A means to quickly and accurately assess stream quality. Environmental Monitoring & Assessment, 188(5).

Carrino-Kyker, S., Kluber, L., Petersen, S., Coyle, K., Hewins, C., DeForest, J.L., Smemo, K., Burke, D. (2016). Effects of Soil pH and P Availability on Arbuscular and Ectomycorrhizal Fungi Colonizing Tree Roots in a Temperate Hardwood Forest, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 92(3), fiw024.