Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

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Kirk Broders to Become
STRI Research Associate

August 19, 2020


STRI will miss Kirk and his family when they move back to the U.S., but look forward to continued collaboration.

In mid-August, STRI staff scientist, Kirk Broders will travel to Peoria, Illinois to begin a new job as curator of the microbial culture collection at the United States Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS). He will continue his relationship with STRI as a research associate.

Kirk came to Panama in 2018 with his wife, Gloria, as part of the Simons’ Foundation-sponsored microbiome initiative. His research focuses on both basic and applied aspects of fungal plant pathogens–especially oomycetes–and how they interact with their hosts and the environment.

Kirk has been an outstanding field and laboratory researcher and an active participant in the STRI scientific community and it has been a pleasure to work with him. Although saddened by the departure of an enthusiastic researcher and friend, we’re happy that he will continue to lead his own research projects in Panama and collaborate with staff and students here.

Best wishes to Kirk and Gloria.

“Kirk has been a fantastic mentor. His rigorous knowledge of plant pathology, enthusiasm for unanswered questions in tropical ecology, and collaborative generosity, have been a great combination of qualities to experience as a mentee. Throughout my time at STRI, Kirk has helped me gain a new perspective on plant-pathogen interactions.”

-John Schroeder, post-doctoral fellow in staff scientist, Allen Herre’s lab

“Starting a new line of staff research in forest microbiology has been a priority for a long time at STRI, and we all were delighted when you, Gloria, Calvin (and pets) joined our community to take on this challenge. Thanks so much for your brief service to STRI and contributions to our research;  already one sees your influence across our microbial landscape!   We wish you all the best, and hope as a new Research Associate you let us know in advance how things are playing in Peoria!”

-Bill Wcislo, staff scientist

“In his short time at STRI, Kirk has energized research in plant-microbial interactions and pathogen dynamics.  Before his arrival, we didn’t know enough to know what we didn’t know.  None of us talked about oomycetes – now, how can we forget them!  Kirk quickly transitioned to working in the tropical forest environment, both in the field on BCI and with experimental work in the greenhouse. He has been a flexible and respectful collaborator and an excellent colleague. His comments at Fellowship meetings have been insightful and his passion for oomycetes and how plants respond to pathogen attack has clearly shown through as he has patiently explained them to us! He has been a pleasure to work with and I look forward to future collaborations. We are sorry to have to say goodbye and wish Kirk and Gloria all the best.”

-Kristin Saltonstall, staff scientist

“While Kirk's scientific street credibility and willingness to help others with what he knew has never been in question, what is often overlooked is his deep rooted Nebraska Heartland, dry and sly sense of humor. Certainly, we had a running joke about how he loved hazelnuts (he was going to make his world-famous hazelnut butter for me), and it was up to me to find him the hazelnuts. However, the only source of hazelnuts I could find in Panama was the ones in Ritter Sport Vol-Nuss chocolate bars. Kirk always thanked me, and always said that he intended to remove the nuts from the chocolate, accumulate enough to make the butter, and give the separated chocolate to Gloria and Calvin. But I never saw any hazelnut butter, and I never heard Gloria mention receiving any chocolate.”

-Allen Herre, staff scientist

Photo caption:

Thank you to Enith Rojas, Erin Spear and others for this collection of photos showing work in the Broders lab.

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